Director: Don McKellar
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch
Release Date: June 13th, 2014
The Grand Seduction is packed with a warmth and charm that cannot be underestimated. Set in the small harbor community of Tickle Head, the film tells the story of a town on the verge of collapse and its last opportunity to change its destiny. Despite its obvious flaws, the feature is the perfect encapsulation of what a cinematic gem looks like.
The title itself refers not to a sexual seduction but to an economic one.
Tickle Head is a town with approximately 120 residents. It has been decimated by the terrible economy and even the Mayor– who packs his car with all of the family furniture at night– is eager to move. Everyone has given up hope in an economic revival, save for Murray French (Brendan Gleeson), a gruff older man who has– after his wife pushes him in the right direction– grown tired of his boring life. Murray cashes two welfare checks at the local bank as the film begins, despite the fact that the second check belongs to his deceased friend.
“I don’t like what we’ve become, Murray,” his wife notes solemnly before leaving town in search of employment elsewhere.
Forced to take on the Mayoral duties, Murray works behind the scenes in order to bring a factory that would bring hundreds of jobs into town. His only roadblock is that the company that would build the factory states that the the community needs a town doctor. That brings Murray to Dr. Lucas (Taylor Kitsch), a young handsome doctor with a fiance, a medical degree and a nasty cocaine habit that– through a series of events– forces Lucas to move into town for exactly one month. After the month, Lucas can leave but Murray’s goal is to convince the young doctor to remain in town permanently.
It’s here where the film hits its stride as the big-time doctor visits this small community. Adapted from the French film La grande séduction, the feature pits Lewis against a group of residents who have little in common with him but everything to gain from him. They learn about his hobbies and pretend that they share his interests (a cricket match is faked with hilarious results). And even though audiences will know where the story is heading, the script’s wit and easy charm is hard not to enjoy.
Gleeson does an admirable job with the lead role but it’s Kitsch– with his naive idealism and his patience with the strange community– that truly stands out. Long gone is the confidence Kitsch so often displayed on Friday Night Lights. Here, the actor stands willing to take on a smaller role as a good doctor but a flawed man who finds himself enjoying some of the love that this harbor town has to offer.
It’s true that the feature has its share of flaws. Lucas’ cocaine habit is eventually dropped as a plot device and his relationship with the fiance lacks believable depth. But despite those flaws, I found myself falling in love with this little warm movie that tells its story well with a beautiful location and a seemingly-perfect cast (which also includes the underestimated Gordon Pinsent).
It’s hard not to be seduced by The Grand Seduction. It does its job so admirably that you simply fall in love with it.
Review by: John Hanlon