THE GRAND SEDUCTION (2014) Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch, Gordon Pinsent, Mark Critch, Liane Balaban, Anna Hopkins. Directed by Don McKellar
"The Grand Seduction" is a delightful remake of the 2004 French-Canadian film La Grande Seduction with splendid actor Brendan Gleeson, who also narrates the film, and Taylor Kitsch who was seen earlier this year in Lone Survivor.
The story takes place in the small Newfoundland harbor village of Tickle Head where jobs are nonexistent and residents get by on welfare checks. Things are so bad that even the mayor has moved off in the middle of the night. When a petrochemical company shows interest in building a factory there, the residents become optimistic that the new jobs would make the small village flourish as it once did decades ago, but there must be a full time doctor living in Tickle Head before the company will even consider building a plant there. Lifelong resident, Murray French (Brendan Gleeson) comes up with a plan to lure a doctor to the harbor village and make it seem like the best place on earth so that the doc will want to stay.
Taylor Kitsch plays Dr. Paul Lewis, a young, handsome, cricket playing, plastic surgeon who gets busted for cocaine by customs at the airport. He pleads with the agent to let him slide by promising free plastic surgery, but being in a position that's receptive to any possibility, Lewis soon finds himself on a boat headed to Tickle Head as the new village doctor for the next 30 days. Murray informs the residents that they must make the tiny town seem like the best place on earth so Dr. Lewis will want to stay on as the local doctor and the farce begins. Fresh paint is slapped on buildings to make them seem more appealing, dilapidated structures are deemed historical landmarks, the ladies in the village begin to sew cricket uniforms, and the men download instructions from the internet so they can set up a playing field. When the doc arrives on the boat he can't believe his eyes when he sees a cricket match being played in a field overlooking the harbor and Murray goes as far as asking the doc how his cocaine addiction is going and if he needs any the town is "down with it." The villager's even bug the doctor's phone line to find his likes and dislikes and to get an idea of how their charade is going.
If you've never seen the French-Canadian original but the story sounds familiar, it's probably because it's redolent of other films like Local Hero, Doc Hollywood, and Waking Ned Devine. Director Don McKellar avoids exaggerating the ruse but runs out of steam towards the end of the film. Gleeson and Kitsch are really good in their roles and so is the supporting cast of zany characters. It may not be a groundbreaking fresh idea but "The Grand Seduction" is a charming and enjoyable little comedy.
(3 1/2 stars)
Now showing at the Landmark River Oaks Theater (Houston)
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