Friday Film Review: The Abduction Club
The Abduction Club (2002)
Ever since I first heard about this movie, while looking for art pics to be used for Lynne Connolly’s “Richard and Rose” series for my reviews “back in the day” when these weren’t available anymore after the original epublisher did an early version of what we now call epublisherfail, I’ve wanted to see it. Problem was, and still is, that it’s only out in a region 2 or 4 DVD which leaves me, in region 1, basically SOL. Or so I thought. Then I discovered a way to see it. On youtube! God bless youtube which allows people to put all kinds of crap up for public viewing or, in this case, a movie that it doesn’t look like I’ll be able to legitimately buy any damn time soon.
So I watched it (in either 9 [German subtitles] or 10 [Spanish subtitles] part sections depending on which version you watch).
ETA: Sorry but this looks like it’s now been taken down from youtube. Only clips are left.
It’s a simple plot which is supposed to be based on actual, though much less fun than depicted on screen, events. We’re in eighteenth century Ireland. As in England, the eldest son inherits all the family loot leaving any younger sons to find some other way to support their expected lifestyle. The Abduction Club is a band of young men who meet, woo then kidnap rich women in order to marry for money and avoid being forced into the priesthood or military by their families.
Our group nobly insists that the women have the right to refuse to marry their abductors in which case the women will be returned to their families the next morning. But the lads count on having discovered the interests of their brides-to-be, detected a mutual attraction and then using their charm to carry the day. The film opens with one successful abduction during which we learn what it’s all about and the rules by which the club operates. After each event, they draw lots to determine the next to try his hand.
Garrett Byrne (Daniel Lapaine) wins the next opportunity and sets out to gain the interest of Catherine Kennedy (Alice Evans) the daughter of a wealthy gentleman. During their meeting, his friend James Strange (Matthews Rhys) meets the younger daughter Anne (Sophia Myles). It’s a meeting during which sparks fly as these two spar with each other. Meanwhile Byrne is practically oozing oily charm as he shamelessly flatters Catherine. Thinking it’s all in the bag, he announces he’s ready and the abduction is planned.
Only it all goes tits up. Catherine is abducted from an evening musicale but evinces no interest in marrying Byrne, much to his surprised dismay. Strange shows up with Anne who has apparently flirted him into taking her with him only to change her mind once he flubs the proposal. Then Anne’s rejected suitor (Liam Cunningham) rides to the rescue along with a company of soldiers and things really go wrong. Now the couples are on the run, finally seeing each other for who they truly are and falling in love. But is it too late for their HEA?
Why do I like it? It’s like a romance novel on screen! It’s fun to watch but probably has little relation to reality when it comes right down to it. Though the storyline is fairly predictable, we’re used to this in romance novels, right? We even like the predictability for the most part. It’s got two heroes, one who’s handsome and one who’s cute but not quite handsome enough to be the main guy. Plus loads of secondary men who could have ended up as heroes of other movies. I can just see the sequel potential now.
It’s got two heroines who are sisters. One gets to play the responsible heroine who we just know is going to have her martyr moment and a younger, feisty heroine who plays the irrepressible role until her chance to be a martyr arrives, because we all know that all heroines are martyr wannabes. I do like that Catherine calls Byrne on his reasons for marrying her in a nice “turn the tables on him” moment. While Anne basically flips Strange the verbal bird after his spectacularly inept marriage proposal.
All this takes place after the “meet cute,” or maybe I should say the “abduct cute,” scene where everything does go wrong that can go wrong. Lots of one liners and merrie mayhem abound. Plus the intro to a great Bach concerto. There are also chase scenes, fleeing from the heroes scenes, introspection scenes and narrow escapes. Then an “amazing rescue from death at the last moment complete with all the male buddies” scene before a final “overcoming the villains” ending leading to romance for all as the closing credits roll.
The girls’ father (John Arthur) is every father I’ve ever hated in a romance novel. A widower, he’s more interested in gambling than watching who his daughters meet at racetracks. He then abdicates all parental responsibility and expects one of the girls to pay for his mistakes before finally wising up to his nonsense and agreeing to let the girls marry penniless men who have no prospects and who are on the run from the law!
We also get two villains for the price of admission. One is either a heartless, manipulative asshole (Cunningham) or merely misunderstood depending on whether or not anyone would want to redeem him in a sequel book – uhm I mean movie. While the secondary villain (Tom Murphy) plays the “hero envy” role or could possibly be gay – and thus obviously a villain because all homosexuals in historicals are eeevil.
Great costumes and scenery plus rousing music round out the experience. Though I think the hair stylists did better by Lapaine than Rhys in the hair extensions category
Most of the actors look like they’re having a good time with their roles. Except maybe Alice Evans who has to be so sober during much of the film. Sophia Myles is a bubbly delight. Lapaine and Rhys have that great buddy chemistry going.
I do wish whoever owns the rights would eliminate the regional freeze out that has most of the world twiddling their thumbs waiting to buy a legitimate copy. But until then, there’s youtube. At a little over 90 minutes, it doesn’t take that long to watch. You can manage the roughly 9-10 minute long sections on work breaks or in delinquent moments when your supervisor isn’t looking. Go on, it’s a fun movie.