Review: Scott Speedman in Barefoot

Andrew Fleming (The In-Laws, Hamlet 2) directs Barefoot – a romantic comedy with an intriguing premise, but one that is executed in the most conventional way possibly.

Psychiatric hospital janitor Jay (Scott Speedman) is the black sheep of his wealthy family – preferring to frequent strip clubs with his parent’s cash than to work in the family business. He soon meets vulnerable patient Daisy (Evan Rachel Wood) who was raised in isolation by her psychotic mother, with the pair forming an immediate bond. Jay soon ropes Daisy into coming to a family wedding and posing as his respectable girlfriend in order to pretend to his family that he is settling down.

Stephen Zotnowski’s screenplay initially approaches the romcom from an interesting angle – it is not often that genre intertwines with subject of mental health. However, this unconventional take does not stick around for too long as when Jay and Daisy make their way to the wedding formula takes over the narrative – and Daisy becomes less mentally ill and more ‘quirky’. Despite the originality fading off there is still some fun to be had with light-hearted Barefoot.

There is a likeable chemistry between Speedman and Wood with the attractive couple forming a convincing and inherently sweet relationship. Jay becomes a guardian figure to Daisy and we see the party boy gradually mature through this, whilst we see the vulnerable young girl gain strength and overcome her setbacks. Fleming captures a light-hearted tone in a number of the more comic scenes which rely on the fish-out-of-water dynamic of Daisy interacting with Jay’s wealthy parents. This light-hearted tone, however, does not gel particularly well with the revelations of Daisy’s darker past – which should be an emotional blow to the viewer but ultimately have little effect. 
Barefoot is pleasantly inoffensive fluff. There’s enough traditional romantic-comedy trappings to keep fans of the genre entertained and Fleming’s bright, upbeat direction is admirable. Speedman and Wood bring charisma and sex appeal to the romantic leads – and special thanks to Fleming for the opening shirtless shots of Scott.