Monday, March 10, 2014
Barefoot stars Scott Speedman and Rachel Evan Wood as Jay Wheeler and Daisy Kensington, respectively. Jay is a gorgeous ne'er-do-well who likes one night stands (as evident from the first scene in the movie), partying at a local strip club, and gambling money he doesn’t have; the latter which we learn about when he’s physically accosted by the goon working for someone to whom he owes $37,000. Working as a janitor at a psychiatric hospital as part of his parole, Jay is desperate for a way out of his predicament so with the excuse of his brother’s wedding he calls home with boasts of a hospital administration job and a nurse for a girlfriend, offering his excited mom and skeptical dad reassurance of his plans to be home (New Orleans) for his baby brothers nuptials; though the real goal is hitting up his rich dad for the money the previously mentioned goon will take out of his hide if he doesn’t deliver.
Jay meets the beautiful Daisy at the hospital; she’s a new patient, a possible schizophrenic, admitted after the death (maybe murder) of her mother. Daisy is ethereal, sweet and naïve with the coping mechanisms of a child, having spent the entirety of her life locked up at home with her mother, who homeschooled her, taught her driving would make her pregnant, and limited her TV viewing to TVLand and CMT. After Jay saves her from a pervy orderly, Daisy follows him off hospital grounds like a lost puppy and while Jay suffers some initial dismay at the circumstance, he quickly sees Daisy’s potential in filling the said “nurse” girlfriend role; sure that the angelic Daisy will convince his dubious father that he’s found the one to make him rethink his future.
Of course, Daisy easily charms Jay’s mom and dad (Treat Williams) with her beauty and wholesome innocence. Daisy is utterly guileless in the midst of Jay’s family’s wealth; such as when his mom tells her she’ll be sleeping in Marie Antoinette’s bed, to which Daisy says…”oh no, she can have it, I can just sleep on the floor” or when she compares the goose liver pate served at a formal dinner to Fancy Feast cat food. As you'd probably expect plans ultimately go awry and the two have to hightail it out of Dodge, leading to an eye-opening and soul-searching road trip filled with one escapade after another, though if they can make it past the cops, hospital administrator, and one vicious henchman they just might have a chance at true love.
Barefoot was an hour and a half of sweet fun; not heavy on plot or depth, it feels like one of those Lifetime movies for women as opposed to a feature film but I nonetheless loved it. The film featured the perfect romantic formula; the misunderstood ingénue (beautiful and vulnerable) and the dashing scoundrel (gorgeous and rich) who merely needs the love of a good woman to save him from himself. It was charming, romantic and engaging; as cloyingly sweet as honey but I lapped it up like a ravenous Winnie the Pooh.
Speedman was quite convincing in his portrayal and I easily bought into both Jay’s feelings for Daisy and his ultimate redemption. Of course great dialogue isn’t a hallmark of these types of movies, so his emotions were mostly conveyed through countless lovelorn gazes and cheeky grins, but with those beautiful baby blues being batted in my direction, I forgave almost anything. Wood’s performance as Daisy though is what drove the movie and gave it substance and heart. She radiated an inner beauty that was part and parcel of the character. Wood’s expressive face showed a child-like openness and vulnerability that made you root for her happiness and demand the world protect and nurture her.
Though predictable and at times implausible, Barefoot’s love conquers all message and (pardon the spoiler) happy ending, totally redeemed all its flaws; so skip the $7.99 purchase of your next paperback romance novel and instead spend $4.95 renting this winner.