RICHARD CROUSE

REVIEW: The Grand Seduction

Posted By: Richard Crouse · 5/30/2014 12:00:00 AM

“We’ve been looking for a doctor eight years,” says the mayor of Tickle Head, Newfoundland in the new Don McKellar comedy “The Grand Seduction.”

“Well,” replies Murray (Brendan Gleeson), with perfect logic, “let’s stop looking and start finding.”

And that’s just what they do, using every underhanded and dirty trick in the book. These are decent people who try and do the right thing, but they also understand that sometimes you have to bend the rules to get what you want.

Tickle Head, “a small harbor with a big heart,” has had more of its share of hardship since the bottom fell out of the fishery. Unemployment is high and the only jobs are “in town” in St. John’s, a ferry ride away.

The town fathers have a bid on a petrochemical byproduct repurposing plant that makes… well, it doesn’t matter, as they say in the film, it makes jobs. That’s what’s important. One key element is missing, a doctor. The factory deal won’t go through unless there is a local doctor.

When Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), a city slicker plastic surgeon, lands in the harbour for a month long residency, the entire place (population 121) bands together to convince him to stay… by any means necessary.

Not everyone in town is on board. Kathleen (Liane Balaban) doesn’t want an oil company to set up shop in her harbor and certainly doesn’t want to be used as bait to attract the new doctor.

A remake of the French-Canadian hit “La Grande Seduction” is a comedy with a poignant edge. The set-up is outrageous—they spy on Dr. Lewis, tap his phone and even stage a tournament of cricket, his favorite game—but this is a story of a town fighting for survival of their town and their way of life.

There are plenty of laughs along the way—Gordon Pinsent is particularly effective as the deadpan Simon, who has never left Tickle Head—but the heart and soul of the film is in its fondness for the people and their harbor.

4 STARS

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