'The Grand Seduction' Is Cute But Doesn't Make It Past Second Base
When we caught the description to The Grand Seduction, a remake of the 2003 French-Canadian film La Grande Séduction (Seducing Doctor Lewis), we'll admit that wanted to see it for one reason alone: Taylor Kitsch. The actor, who we fondly remember as smoldering bad boy Tim Riggins on Friday Night Lights, co-stars with veteran Irish actor Brendan Gleeson in the little indie film about a dying Newfoundland fishing village in need of a resident doctor.
The movie (like his other current project the HBO movie The Normal Heart) is a little different choice for Kitsch in his post-FNL career, who jumped immediately to big-budget action flicks John Carter and Battleship. While The Grand Seduction is a cute, innocuous and entertaining comedy, we can’t help but compare the town-foolery to 1998’s Waking Ned Devine (in our opinion, a superior film). But what's worse is that our boy Kitsch's character comes off as a pretty dumb dude for a plastic surgeon.
The quaint fishing village of Tickle Head isn't quite what it used to be, as romanticized by lifelong grizzled resident Murray French (Brendan Gleeson in a fine performance). Most of the men are out of work and wait for the monthly welfare checks to piss away at the local pub. Murray is shaken out of this purgatory when his wife moves out of the village for work "in town." He's finally moved to do something—bring her back home and bring jobs back to the harbor. He learns that there’s a chance to woo a plastics recycling company to build their factory at Tickle Head, but one requirement is that the town have its own doctor.
We meet Dr. Paul Lewis (Kitsch) at the airport as he's traveling through security with a huge cricket tournament trophy in tow. His bags are searched by a guard, who happens to be Tickle Head's former mayor. When he finds the doctor's personal stash of cocaine, the security guard makes him an offer—serve penance for a month as the doctor in the harbor village or go to jail. He picks the former, and the townsfolk, led by self-appointed mayor Murray—now have 30 days for "the grand seduction."
The script, written by Mike Dowse and Ken Scott, does offer a number of laugh out loud moments, as the entire village woos the good doctor, from feigning a cricket match at his arrival to describing Tickle Head as “cocaine friendly.” Since there’s no cell reception, they tap into the doctor’s landline, and the local women transcribe all his calls, mostly between him and his unseen fiancee—and you can see where that’s headed.
Lewis is falling for the town; he thinks there’s just something peaceful and magical about the place. But seriously, wouldn’t you get just a little suspicious when the town pub’s nightly specials are carrot soup, a sandwich as well as your favorite Indian dish lamb dhansak, especially right after you told your girlfriend how much you missed it? Or why you keep finding $5 pound notes at the same place on the dock? Or how everyone in town just loves cricket (over hockey...in Canada).
The Grand Seduction is largely just another a romantic comedy, only this time, it’s between a town and the doctor. Things unravel when Murray feels guilty about lying to Lewis—to the point where he makes up a dead son (it's here that the film becomes a little maudlin.) Like any average rom-com, there’s a little-too-neat of a happy ending; so unfortunately, The Grand Seduction doesn’t make it much past second base with us.
The Grand Seduction is now playing at The Landmark in West Los Angeles and the Landmark Sunshine Cinema in New York.