Based on Jean-François Pouliot’s 2003 film Seducing Doctor Lewis, a popular French-language comedy set in a small Canadian fishing community, The Grand Seduction offers the same folksy valorization of rural life, only in a different tongue. Substituting northern Quebec with the coast of Newfoundland, Don McKellar’s remake chronicles a community of eccentric, welfare-dependent fishermen in need of a doctor to move into town as a requirement for a potential factory that would bring jobs to the region. After a cocky, young plastic surgeon (Taylor Kitsch) agrees to spend a month in the harbor as a community physician, the locals, spearheaded by the town’s predictably caddish mayor, Murray (Brendan Gleeson), put on an elaborate ruse to convince him to make his stay permanent. To do this, they create a fraudulent version of Tickle Head, designed to attract someone with the tastes and looks of a young cosmopolitan doctor. We’re meant to perceive the residents of Tickle Head as amiable and kind-hearted, but a worrisome small-town conservatism lies at the heart of their desires and motives. Murray’s call to action occurs when his wife leaves him for a job in St. John’s, Newfoundland’s largest city, and he, unemployed and scamming the welfare system, refuses to go with her. While it’s easy to laugh at these fishers and the charms of their simple lives, it’s a little hard to take when Murray is driven by a steadfast refusal to let his wife be a breadwinner. Like many films that contrast the simplicity of a rural community against the confusion of city life, The Grand Seduction exhibits a patriarchal, xenophobic attitude, heightened by Murray’s brief trips into St. John’s, whose ethnically diverse residents populate the frame without uttering so much as a line of dialogue. What’s really at stake for the residents of Tickle Head isn’t whether or not the doctor will stay or the factory will get built, but their pride in maintaining a homogenous, ethnocentric way of life.
- eOne Films
- 113 min
- Don McKellar
- Michael Dowse, Ken Scott
- Taylor Kitsch, Brendan Gleeson, Liane Balaban, Gordon Pinsent, Mark Critch, Mary Walsh
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