The Decoy Bride (2011) – Quirky, Cute and Scottish

I saw this movie years ago, because of David Tennant, and now saw it again…because of David Tennant. And it was better than I remembered and very, very cute and quirky in the best of ways that only an indie film can be.


In the remote Scottish island of Hegg in the Archipelago lives Katie Meaghaid who is currently the only single woman on the island and is writing the official guidebook to Hegg. Meanwhile the Hollywood star Lara Tyler is getting married to the English author James Arber who wrote the rather thick debut novel named the The Ornithologists Wife, which is about the island. Sadly the two are getting hogged by paparazzi so the wedding ceremony is always being interrupted, most prominently by the paparazzi Marco Ballani. So, from the inspiration from her to-be husbands book the whole wedding crew go to Hegg. Only they need a decoy bride for the pictures and that is when Katie comes in. And soon it is a long journey towards divorce on the island.



As a write (a hopeful one, unless you read AO3 and the Good Omens tag where I do have a piece that is still on the way) this film is filled with so many fan fiction tropes enough to fill a bullet point list. So I will!

  • Just the concept of a “Decoy Bride”
  • Accidental marriage
  • Person A trying to get B and C together at the cost of their love towards B
  • Drowning scene, but taking it lightly later
  • Awkward main character
  • Locked in a room, drunk
  • Old couple, just old couple
  • The simple fact that David Tennant is in this movie

I do hope I didn’t spoil the movie for anyone for listing these things. But seeing that both of the main characters are writers in their own way it feels right to include this tropes that seem “silly” or “cliché” in to it. And they work! They work and its just simply lovely and cute!

This movie might first be about the poor writer and the Hollywood star á la Notting Hill, but on comes a movie about relationships of all almost all ages and all circumstances. A single mother whose husband left, a deaf couple still in love, a fiancé who dismisses intelligent women, an ex who wants back, divorce (obviously) as well as the imagining of a person in to something they aren’t. Deep down there are these issues the movie deals with, with its light quirky British humour. Indeed while watching this seeing these relationships are so real and raw, but they don’t male you feel sad, but warm inside. That is the special affection I have for this movie. For making me feel that way even though the themes are themselves ones that would usually make me cry buckets.

David Tennant as James Arber is putting on one of the best performances in his life by simply keeping the English accent of his character even though he himself is Scottish. James Arber is a character filled with conflict that he hides under the surface of the sheer belief that he has been lucky and thus shouldn’t feel anything other than happy. Tennant’s face acting and reactions between Lara and Katie tell it all. With Lara he feels like a sham and not good enough for her, while with Katie he smiles, makes jokes and can relax with. It’s a change worth many rewatches of this movie.

Kelly Macdonand as Katie Meaghaid is our awkward, quirky, relatable protagonist. Her quirkiness is not forced and Macdonald makes it all come naturally in her own brightly positive and very human way. She wants love (like we all), but she has other goals too in her life, making the very funny lines declaration to be “Vegan for men”. Her lines are so relatable it hits home, but in the best, funniest way: “He’s an emotionally retarded arty type who’s in love with another woman. Of course I like him.” That is honestly one of the most relatable line in the whole movie.

As the Hollywood starlet Lara Tyler we have Alice Eve who works well, but is left a little hollow and rushed. Maybe a better casting of her might have been better. As her paparazzi stalker is Federico Castelluccio who makes his at first creepy character quite endearing at the end. Because of the choices these two make one can see the ending for them, with has a hint of irony that goes with it.

The movie was shot in the Isle of Man and uses every opportunity to get the rural, rustic shots of this remote island. It isn’t an island one suddenly goes to holiday, it is that hidden gem filled with nature and the lives that live by it. With its Scottish populace this movie is like a holiday destination to a place where we know Instagram won’t make us famous (that is for those who are concentrated on that thing), but it will make you feel like home away from home. Or rather the comfortable old chair in the corner, with a warm fire lit in the fireplace and a hot cocoa to drink, even though the toilets might be a little out of paper, but then again there are always rubbish books available. You love it, even with its imperfections. That kind of home.

There are a few Doctor Who references, per David Tennant being in the film including hermits, a certain John, and out of space. Thankfully those references are gotten out in the first fifteen minutes of the film and don’t take away from the plot later on. This isn’t a great movie, but it is a good one. For a movie that is exactly what it wants to be; quirky, heart-warming and filled with genuine emotions it succeeds in spades. This movie will make you happy, it will make you chuckle and laugh, tear up and smile. It is the kind of romantic comedy that is the right one when you stop looking, just like in love.


Thank you for reading! 

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