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Film / The Decoy Bride

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It's complicated.

Lara Tyler: You are ruining my life!
Marco Ballani: (gleefully) I've ruined plenty of lives! You're nothing special.

Lara Tyler, an immensely popular movie star, is hounded by the paparazzi due to her upcoming wedding to James Arber, an aspiring writer and author of her favorite book, The Ornithologist's Wife. In an attempt to escape the attention of the press, the two secretly head off to the tiny Scottish island of Hegg, where James' book takes place. Meanwhile, Hegg native Katie laments her luck with men after having just been rejected by her fiancé, and decides to live with her wheelchair-bound mother for the time being. A writer herself, she is drafted into writing a guidebook to Hegg by her old friend Charley.

Lara's agent Steve and his assistant Emma soon arrive on the island, and promptly make over the local ancient castle with an insane amount of money and work in preparation for the wedding, claiming to be part of a "marketing conference" to avoid the attention of the press. However, despite precautions, Lara's most persistent paparazzi photographer is on the scent, and when James bumps into Katie in the local haunted toilet, everything goes exactly not as planned.


With a cast of Kelly MacDonald, David Tennant, and Alice Eve, The Decoy Bride came out in Australia in 2011, not reaching the United Kingdom and United States until March 2012.

This film includes examples of:
  • Accidental Marriage: James and Katie realize they actually are married when they discuss signing the register - James signed as himself, naturally, and Katie jokingly signed her own name, not thinking about the consequences.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Angus gives one to Katie. It's surprisingly passionate and beautiful, which actually makes it a bit upsetting when she turns him down.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Steve: Get me an office, a landline, steeplejacks, welders, £20,000 in cash, 50,000 gallons of water, the construction crew from Bonnie Prince Charlie and a cappuccino.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: James and Katie spend a good portion of time snapping at and insulting each other before the Rescue Romance vibes kick in.
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  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Katie's mother wants to "see the world, overdose on daiquiris, and be thrown into a volcano." But you need money for that.
  • Bride and Switch: Steve and Emma pay Katie to stand in for Lara at the wedding without telling James. He catches on once Katie is forced to speak (in a badly-faked American accent) and demands to know what the hell is going on.
    • There are also the various fake brides in the opening sequence.
  • Call-Back: The photographer (in disguise) tells Katie's mother he's photographing rare birds, which gets the sarcastic reply of something like "You'd have more luck photographing hedgehogs." He's seen in the credits selling pictures of Hegg's wildlife, including hedgehogs.
    • Katie mentions a potential use of a guide to Hegg as a toilet paper alternative, and we later see James' book being utilized as such.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The haunted toilet.
  • Cock Fight: Angus tries to have one with James, who refuses, saying he "doesn't fight." Angus tries to tackle him anyway, and James manages to throw him to the ground.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Heavily implied with most of the major characters in the epilogue.
  • Disappeared Dad: Katie's father left years ago. She and her mother keep a picture of him on the wall to throw darts at.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Although not the nature of the film per se, James and Katie do get married, do get divorced, and do get back together at the end.
  • Fake Boobs: Steve sees fit to stuff some padding into Katie's bosom during her makeover.
  • False Soulmate: Lara for James. And James for her, as well - see Last-Minute Hookup.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: During the changing scene James is shown to be wearing quill-printed boxers, much to the excitement of David Tennant's fans!
  • Hidden Depths: Lara appears to be your classic Brainless Beauty, and is admittedly a bit of a ditz. Turns out she's also a Master of Disguise and can kick people in the face.
  • If It's You, It's Okay:
    James:You know, they asked 10,000 men to name their ideal partner and 9,800 said Lara. Statistically that includes at least 800 gay men.
  • I'm Thinking It Over!: Katie's mother's response to Lara's "Your money or your life."
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Between Lara and the Paparazzi photographer during the film's ending credits.
    • To be fair, he figures out pretty early on in the movie that he loves her and confesses this to an old woman (not realising it's actually Lara in disguise).
  • Makeover Montage: Lara's make up artists give a reluctant Katie a makeover to prepare her for her time as Lara's stand-in. Katie hates it, but finds herself surprisingly pleased by the results. Steve shivers in horror and adds more veil to cover her up.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The two main characters are both writers.
  • Mr. Smith: When James first meets Katie, he doesn't want her to know who he is, so he stammers that his name is ...J...John...John...son...John... John Johnson.
  • Noodle Incident: Sometime in the past (implied to be decades before), there was an incident with a whale that brought tourists to the island. Probably also indicates Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here, since the islanders are still talking about it.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Katie's reaction when Charley suggests she write a guidebook to the island.
  • Purple Prose: James' book is apparently full of the poorly done type of this.
    • Katie's guidebook also has a little, but she's actually pretty good at it.
  • Rescue Romance: James and Katie act considerably warmer toward each other after he saves her from drowning.
  • Shipper on Deck: The Reverend tells James and Katie they make a good match.
    • And Katie's mother persuades her to go after James.
  • Snipe Hunt: To distract Steve and Emma and the various paparazzi from James and Lara, Katie sends both groups off to the haunted toilet.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The paparazzi photographer reveals that he is obsessed with Lara, and takes all of the photographs of her not for the money per se, but because he loves her. He seems to have his love returned in the ending credits.
  • Stalking Is Love: Lara seems to believe so.
  • UST: Very much in evidence and remarkably well done. In the quiet moments of the film, the UST between James and Katie is palpable.
  • Writer's Block: James is having major issues writing another book - it is suggested this is due to his soul-crushing relationship with Lara.