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.
The latest Pixar film is the tale of Merida, a Scottish princess who would rather shoot targets with a bow or climb a dangerous rock face than take lessons in etiquette from her mother. Her father lost his leg in a battle with a particularly fierce bear and her little brothers are hell-raising triplets. Merida’s life reaches a breaking point when three allied clans show up to offer candidates for her hand in marriage, and since the manner of competition is her choice, she chooses archery – and wins her own hand, infuriating her mother and putting the truce between the clans in danger.
All of this information is given to us in the trailer and previews for the film, which promised a tale of action and adventure where a young woman declares her independence, thereby changing her fate. After the tournament, however, the plot goes places that I did not expect, nor did I care as much to follow. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense to go there; it’s just not as interesting to me as the other possible tales that could have been told about Merida. In that respect, this film reminds me of Pixar’s Wall-E: a splendid opening act with a middle and resolution that I found far less compelling.
I was talking with Nicole on the way home from the film – she enjoyed it more than I – and I speculated that Brave was the first Pixar film to feel more like a regular Disney film in terms of its subject matter and themes. She pointed out that unlike most traditional Disney princess tales, this is a film without a handsome prince to impress, deceased parents to mourn, or musical numbers. So perhaps I just need to be satisfied with the film that it is, and not what it isn’t.
That said, if you did enjoy Brave and would like to see more of this kind of thing, check out the splendid Irish production of The Secret of Kells, most of which was drawn by hand.
Touching Scottish film starring Ewen McGregor and Eva Green as a chef and medical researcher who fall in love while an epidemic slowly works its way around the world, robbing people of their senses; first smell, then taste, and so on. It deftly jumps between the depiction of a potential extinction event and the tenuous bond between two lovers with issues.