This charming independent Scottish film is about a young writer (Kelly Macdonald, currently starring as the voice of Merida in Brave) who returns to her home, a small island off the coast of Scotland after a bad breakup. She moves back in with her mum and starts to write a guidebook for the island. Meanwhile, a one-hit novelist who set his book on the same island (David Tennant) arrives with his bride-to be, a famous and beautiful young actress (Alice Eve) who cannot escape the paparazzi. The island is quite tiny, so Macdonald finds herself showing Tennant around.
The press finds them anyway, so the actress’ entourage suggests that they use Macdonald as a decoy, holding a fake ceremony so that photographers will think they have the shots they want and go away before the actual wedding. Naturally, Tennant and Macdonald have a number of misadventures along the way and fall in love for reals.
The Decoy Bride is more complex and interesting than I am making it sound; it has some dark moments and some silly ones to add a little variety to the otherwise predictable plot. In that sense it reminded me of Bill Forsyth’s Local Hero, one of my favourite films. Alice Eve is luminous as usual and Macdonald and Tennant have good chemistry. There is a good supporting cast as well, including Dylan Moran, Sally Phillips, and Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie.
An adequate sequel to a faded franchise, made I suppose because no stone should go unsqueezed in Hollywood. The villain sounds like Tim Curry (or maybe Eddie Izzard) and acts like the villain from Buckaroo Banzai. The time travel story is pretty standard, but it does allow for the two bright spots of the film, where the typically charmless Will Smith interacts with the surprisingly charming Josh Brolin-as-young-Tommy-Lee-Jones. The lovely Alice Eve is also a welcome sight. There appears to be some closure for the series in the final scene, but I would be willing to watch another instalment featuring Brolin and Eve.
I did not expect much from this film – the trailer makes it look pretty awful – but as it went through its rather predictable motions I did find myself warming to the combination of John Cusack’s way-serious Edgar Allan Poe and director James McTeigue’s vision of 19th century Baltimore. Luke Evans, Alice Eve, and Brendan Gleeson do a nice job of holding the center while Cusack runs around and chews the scenery.
The plot of the film is a literary mashup that reminded me of Nicholas Meyer’s Time After Time, in which H.G Wells uses a time machine to chase Jack The Ripper into the modern world. Other than its references to Poe’s actual history and his stories it is a by-the-numbers serial killer story – a sort of proto-Zodiac, lacking the Gothic charm of the many previous films based on Poe’s work. Unlike Poe’s stories, there is not much mystery or imagination in The Raven.