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Film: Barefoot

"Hes a rebellious trust-funder who specializes in strip clubs, one-night stands and gambling debts. Shes a possibly schizophrenic mental patient raised in near-captivity by an abusive mother. How could these two kids not fall in love?"
—from Sara Stewart's review at the New York Post

Barefoot is a 2014 Romantic Comedy about a mismatched couple who bring out the best in each other.

Jay Wheeler (Scott Speedman), the estranged, ne'er-do-well son of a wealthy New Orleans family, has fallen on hard times due to his own jerkassery. By day, he does probation by working as a janitor at a Los Angeles psychiatric hospital, where his idea of helping the patients (providing them with liquor and pornography) is frowned upon by his boss, Dr. Bertleman (JK Simmons). By night, he hangs out at a Bikini Bar and tries to avoid a Loan Shark to whom he owes $40,000. However, Jay's life starts to improve when a mysterious, barefoot young woman named Daisy Kensington (Evan Rachel Wood) is checked in to the hospital. A childlike waif who's lived a life of isolation, Daisy's gentle nature begins to bring out Jay's better qualities.

When Jay learns that his younger brother is getting married back home, he realizes that this is a perfect chance to reconnect with his kin—and maybe trick his father into paying off his debts. He tells his family that he's better off than he actually is, complete with a girlfriend, but can't talk any of the strippers he knows into going along with the scam. Eventually, Jay realizes that his only option is to sneak Daisy out of the hospital so she can pose as his girlfriend. While Daisy charms the Wheelers at first, she can't hold back her eccentricities for long, and Jay is finally forced to admit the truth. Desperate, Jay and Daisy flee back to LA; along the way, they have to deal with the police pursuing them—and their growing attraction to each other. With Jay teaching Daisy about the world (and beginning to realize that she doesn't belong in an institution), and Daisy continuing to smooth his rough edges, they fall in love—but will they be able to stay together?

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Daisy's mother was a schizophrenic who never let her out of the house. As a result, she has No Social Skills, and everything she knows about the outside world comes from what she's seen on TV.
  • Attempted Rape: At the mental hospital, Jay rescues Daisy from an attack by another patient. It's the audience's first indication that he has some good in him after all.
  • The Big Easy: The scenes set in New Orleans were actually filmed there.
  • Bikini Bar: One of Jay's favorite hangouts. Although he's been bannednote , he brings Daisy there, then has to flee when Daisy gets on stage and starts dancing with the strippers.
  • Black Sheep: Jay, compared to his more successful younger brother.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Jay gives Daisy some money, then leaves her at a bus station in Shreveport. However, his conscience gets the better of him and he goes back for her.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Considering her childhood, there's no other way Daisy could have turned out.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Mr. Phelpmitter, one of the mental patients Jay works with. He believes that Big Brother Is Watching You, and thinks he's been institutionalized only because he insists on living "off the grid".
  • Constantly Curious: Daisy, who doesn't understand the outside world because she's seen so little of it.
  • Cringe Comedy: Daisy's lack of social skills sometimes leads to this.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: One of Daisy's defining traits (she avoids shoes whenever she can because "they hurt [her] feet"), and the source of the film's title.
  • Driven to Suicide: Played With. When Daisy is put back in the mental home and Jay is forbidden to see her, he lays on some train tracks (complete with a Crucified Hero Shot) in a desperate attempt to be institutionalized with her. It doesn't work, because Dr. Bertleman is convinced that Jay is a bad influence on Daisy and says that he'll keep them apart.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After all they go through, Jay and Daisy manage to create a happy life for themselves.
  • Foreign Remake: It's based on Barfuss, a 2005 German film.
  • Freak Out: Daisy does this when she realizes that Jay wants to take her back to the mental hospital. The incident helps change Jay's mind.
  • The Ghost: Daisy's mother is already dead before the story begins, and her image is never shown.
  • Good Times Montage: While they're traveling cross country, Jay and Daisy stop to have fun at a rural county fair. In the film's last scene, they're riding a merry-go-round just as they did at the fair as a Meaningful Echo.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Daisy, big time. During the strip club scene, she mentions that a man wanted to pay her for a hand job, then says "I've never had a job in my life!"
  • It's All My Fault: Daisy says that she killed her mother. Actually, she was present when her mother died, but had nothing to do with it.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At first, Jay seems like a selfish, cynical Jerkass, but Daisy brings out the good in him.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Jay's mother persuades his father to pay off the loan shark by reminding him that he was equally reckless in his youth.
  • Loan Shark: He threatens to "smash [Jay's] head open" if he doesn't cough up the $40,000, thus setting off the plot.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: How Daisy started out.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Both Deconstructed (Daisy is even more damaged than Jay) and Reconstructed (she still makes his life better, and he returns the favor).
  • Mock Millionaire: Jay's scheme to trick his father into paying his debts hinges on convincing his family that he's doing fine, and he only needs the money to invest in a new company.
  • Mysterious Waif: How Daisy is introduced to Jay (and the audience).
  • Poor Communication Kills: One reason Daisy is institutionalized is because she's allegedly Hearing Voices. She finally sets Jay straight: it was her schizophrenic mother who heard the voices, not her.
  • The Precious, Precious Car: In this case, it's an old (but well-cared for) RV that Jay's father owns. When they're sneaking out of New Orleans, Jay and Daisy steal it because it's the only vehicle in the garage with keys. And sure enough, Daisy eventually wrecks it.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Dr. Bertleman emerges as one, despite his (understandable) exasperation with Jay for most of the film. He even apologizes when he realizes that Jay was right about both Daisy and the patient who tried to rape her. The clerk at the bus station, who tries to help Daisy when Jay temporarily abandons her, is another example.
  • Road Movie: Jay and Daisy drive from New Orleans to Los Angeles.
  • Scary Black Man: The bouncer at the strip club.
  • Scenery Porn: Plenty of it as Jay and Daisy drive through rural Louisiana and Texas.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Daisy looks positively glamorous when Jay's mother lets her borrow an old dress and styles her hair.
  • Smarter Than You Look: As unworldly as she is, Daisy manages to outwit a Louisiana state trooper. She successfully hides Jay while the trooper looks for him inside the RV, tricks him into searching the woods instead, and then drives off, throwing the trooper's car keys away so he won't be able to follow.
  • Stripperiffic: Many of Daisy's outfits—because Jay borrowed them from his stripper friends.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The essence of Jay's Character Development.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Jay is one for most of the movie. The ending implies that he does finally earn his father's respect.
  • Woman Child: Due to her strange upbringing, Daisy has never really grown up. Jay has to teach her how to drive, how to flush an airplane toilet, etc.
  • Your Cheating Heart: One big source of friction between Jay and his father is that Jay slept with the wife of one of his father's clients because she was "lonely".

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