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Then Came You


‘…there’s nothing to cheer…’

Yikes. Despite occasional twitches of life, Scotland remains a non-starter in terms of home-grown film and tv production, with empty quangos officiating over expensive office space and a cross-party political denial of any Scottish voice who tries to say anything about their lot. Instead, we’re a cash-grabbing background for green-screen fantasy shows, with a Mickey Mouse infrastructure that closes cinemas and bankrupts festivals when the government money is abruptly pulled out. We are, however, always open for business for vanity projects like Then Came You, an entry in the twee shortbread-tin/sh*tbox genre that’s heralded such recent atrocities as A Castle for Christmas.

This time, it’s retired talk show host Kathie Lee Gifford who is indulging her worst instincts, ill-advisedly writing her own script and playing the lead role as Annabelle, a widow from Nantucket who decides to deposit her late husband’s ashes in Scotland. Annabelle books herself a few nights rest at an Inveraray castle managed by Howard (Craig Ferguson) who serves as chief cook and bottle-washer in a gag which was old in 1983’s Local Hero and has aged horrifically since. Annabelle’s Yankee ways cause cultural confusion; should Howard marry his old flame? She’s  played by Elizabeth Hurley, billed above the title but present for less time that than an egg-boiling would take.

Annabelle and Howard are presented as connected souls; they both love movies, and discuss Psycho, Titanic, Forrest Gump, The Silence of the Lambs and more. Pretty much the entire population of the world has seen the same movies, but somehow this shared ground is seen as a fateful plus that means these two should be together. They also share a love of ancient single entendres about cocks and spunk, and despite the chemistry one might expect from two talk-show hosts, their comedy sex scene is genuinely excruciating, as are the resistible CU Jimmy pratfall interjections of Scots comic Ford Kiernan as a frisky groundskeeper.

Annabelle mentions Barbara Streisand as a role model, and it’s easy to see where Gifford gets her ideas of what a film might be; having characters admire your shapely legs seems forced when you’re writing your own script, and so it proves here. Then Came You is a rich person’s folly, a vanity project and an affront to the nation which supposedly provides the backdrop. That Scots are the playthings of the rich and used-to-be-famous isn’t Gifford’s fault, but there’s nothing to cheer in this exploitation of her WASP-y white privilege. So never mind Kathie Lee Gifford, when production costs have never been lower and distribution has never been easier, why can’t Scottish people make their own films about their own country?


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  1. This must have set out as a hate watch because there’s no way you thought a mature rom-com with Kathie Lee Gifford was going to be any good.

    I’m assuming the reason Scottish people don’t make their own films about their own country is the same as Canadians don’t. Because there’s not enough money even with the tax breaks, and more important nobody cares. Culture plays to a global audience more than ever these days.

    Is the Scottish groundskeeper named Willie? Or would that have been too obvious?

    Kathy Lee at the end

    • Always looking to enlighten myself by throwing a large net over culture.

      You’re talking about millions of public money invested every year, but with almost no cultural impact, and that is by design. I guess reviewing a rare, impactful public funded film yesterday reminded me of the lack of results we get in Scotland. It’s embarrassing.

      Nothing is too obvious for this film.

    • “Nobody cares”

      Apparently Eddie does. Does he care too much? Do we need to Xanax him to the gills?
      These are the questions our generation must grapple with on a daily hasis…

  2. Meant to console you by pointing out that the Emerald Isle has produced its fair share of hokey rubbish and was going to cite Wild Mountain Thyme* as a recent case in point, but then saw you gave it four stars. Oh well….

    which (in fairness) I’ve never seen.

    • I enjoyed that cheesy film, but I’m not sure I could consider it a strong Irish film about Irish life. And I’m a unicorn on that one, since I think I’m alone in digging it…

      • Well, I really enjoyed Moonstruck but it did require a conscious suspension of belief. I think the author expected the audience to do the same with Wild Mountain Thyme which isn’t unreasonable (by extension, native New Yorkers – especially American-Italians – might have a very different take on Moonstruck).

        • I think being released in the middle of the pandemic. But there’s a market for Scottish and Irish whimsy. That’s fine, but not every story should be a silly one. Moonstruck was written by John Patrick Shankey who has written good plays like The Big Funk. But I’ve been hearing for 30 years that bending over for the likes of Gifford would facilitate home grown films, and that isn’t happening. We’re just satellites of satellites of satellites.

  3. It does seem strange, I looked up ‘Scottish film directors’ and got a list of 95 persons, you’d think maybe one of them could have a bit of sway to make movies in/about Scotland. This movie sounds quite awful, so nope.

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