The Grand Seduction Movie Review
The Grand Seduction, directed by Don McKellar, features a familiar actor in Brendan Gleeson playing the role of Murray French. He is a proud but gruff down-and-out fisherman stuck in a dying Newfoundland harbor village where he and all the other down-and-out fisherman line up weekly for their welfare checks. When his wife finds a job in the nearest city, leaving him alone at home, he finally decides something needs to be done to bring life back to the community. The former mayor had struck up a conversation with a petroleum company to open a factory for recycling petroleum products. The townspeople have no idea what this means, but it sounds better to them than sitting around all day living off welfare. Unfortunately, to seal the deal, they are required to find a permanent doctor for their harbor, not to mention to put together a very substantial bribe.
The fun really begins when the former mayor, now working as a customs inspector, manages to blackmail young plastic surgeon Dr. Lewis, found with cocaine in his possession, to go for one month to serve as the harbor's doctor. The extent that Murray French and the townspeople go to in order to entice the doctor to fall in love with their decrepit village is truly comical. However, as they near the point when they think they have him hooked to sign a five-year deal and seal the deal with the petroleum company, they are faced with a mighty dilemma—how will they deal with the web of lies they have constructed to seduce the young doctor for their selfish needs? The handsome Dr. Lewis, played by Canadian actor Taylor Kitsch, is charming. Kitsch is best known as Tim Riggins in NBC's "Friday Night Lights" TV series and recently as John Carter in the not-so-successful film of the same name. The village people, like the crusty character Simon played by Gordon Pinsent, are truly delightful. Except for a few actors, the harbor folk are all played by local Newfoundlanders and make up a truly eccentric cast. Murray French (Gleeson) drives the action forward in this boisterous comedy.
I highly recommend this film. The Grand Seduction is a rollicking comedy from start to finish. As one of the opening films of the Seattle International Film Festival, every seat was filled, and the audience was in stitches for much of the movie. It should appeal to people of all ages. Outside of some sexual innuendo, there is nothing too risqué for a family audience except for the most sheltered. It is just downright funny.
I expect The Grand Seduction to get a decent release in the U.S. (just out in theaters now in June 2014). It is a film I would see more than once. It reminds me of films like Hugh Grant's The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain, or the delightful comedy Waking Ned Devine. The film was shot at Trinity Bay in Newfoundland and the cinematography is quite eye-catching. A note of interest: this English version of The Grand Seduction is a remake of the Quebec version "La grande seduction," also known as "Seducing Doctor Lewis."
Interestingly, three of the funniest films I have seen at SIFF the last few years have all been Quebec-based and/or Canadian films: Starbuck, which was scribed by The Grand Seduction writer Ken Scott, and Fathers and Guns (De Pere en flic).
This movie review is written by guest author and movie fanatic Karen Samdahl.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.