Kelly Macdonald and David Tennant star in this 2011 romantic comedy set on a small island in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides. As the film opens, heartbroken trouser catalogue writer Katie (Macdonald) returns to the remote island of Hegg where she grew up, having sworn off men for good. Subsequently, novelist James (Tennant) and his movie star fiance Lara (Alice Eve) flee to the island to marry away from the paparazzi’s cameras. But when the paparazzi arrive on Hegg, Lara disappears and her handlers stage a fake wedding between James and decoy bride Katie. A fairly predictable romantic comedy adventure ensues.
With The Decoy Bride, Tennant reunites with director Sheree Folkson who he had previously worked with on the 2005 miniseries, Casanova. Here, Folkson crafts a passably charming comedy that benefits greatly from a wonderfully-talented leading cast, but ultimately falls short of the small-town comedies it so desperately imitates. Much to the film’s detriment, The Decoy Bride neglects one of the most prominent elements of any comedy set against the backdrop of a small Scottish island town, the colorful locals. And although many such colorful locals call Hegg home, they fade tragically into the background of the film and add little to the overall narrative, save for a precious moment or two.
Compare this to Bill Forsyth’s 1983 film, Local Hero, in which the inhabitants of that film’s small Scottish village virtually become the focus of the film and collectively serve as a secondary character to the film’s protagonist, an outsider among their fold. The locals interact with the protagonist to such an extent there that they actually bring about a change in him and wholly alter the course of the narrative. In The Decoy Bride, by contrast, both Katie and James act as outsiders while the locals serve as a distant annoyance at best, never forming a cohesive whole or substantially affecting the narrative in any way without the aid of other outsiders. Similarly, many of the actors featured in these “outsider” roles, including Dylan Moran of Black Books, Michael Urie and Sally Phillips, are tragically underutilized throughout the film. As such, I’d describe The Decoy Bride as an otherwise charming film characterized by an unfortunate amount of missed opportunities, and could therefore really only recommend it to the staunchest of David Tennant and Kelly Macdonald fans.
Special features on MPI Media Group’s Blu-ray and DVD releases of The Decoy Bride include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a trailer, one incredibly short deleted scene, a featurette showing the breakdown of visual effects shots, and a plethora of jarringly-edited interviews with Sheree Folkson, writers Neil Jaworski & Sally Phillips, producer Robert Bernstein, and stars David Tennant, Kelly Macdonald, Alice Eve, Michael Urie, and Federico Castelluccio.