A small glass of Irish Canadian schmaltz, please. Thank you!
No matter how predictable, cliché, or improbable a story is, it’ll translate into a worthwhile movie-watching experience if it’s executed well (I’m ready to argue about this). This is definitely the case for Don McKellar’s The Grand Seduction, a remake of the 2003 French film, La Grande Séduction. The Grand Seduction is an incredibly charming film filled with great laughs, lovable characters, and a quaint story that befits the film’s soothingly calm pace.
In the tiny village…err…small harbor of Tickle Head, most of the (predominantly elder) townsfolk go about their simple lives as fishermen and such without much care or thought toward introducing anything new into their world. Others, like Murray French (Brendan Gleeson), seek to have more traditional employed purpose as previous generations had. An opportunity arises to introduce a chemical production factory into their town and provide jobs for most of the 120 person population, yet not only is the town lacking proper funding, but it also lacks a resident doctor. Enter Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), a young upstart doctor who agrees to explore the potential job opportunity in Tickle Head in return for a personal favor…of the “turning a blind eye” kind.
In the spirit of Waking Ned Devine (1998), the town is pulling an adorable ploy aimed at siding an important stranger to one side of a crucial decision. In this case, Murray is leading his town in convincing Dr. Lewis that Tickle Head offers everything the doctor could ever want, including cricket (which they don’t know how to play), free money, and a pretty girl to seduce (despite the doctor already having a girlfriend). There are some truly wonderful laughs coming from the elderly townsfolk frantically trying to present their town in the best light. The charm of the elaborate ruse lies in the fact that the town is already so extremely lovely and filled with kindhearted people…just not necessarily the type of place that would appeal to a young city man (as these stories go).
It’s also nice to see Taylor Kitsch performing up to par in this genre. The 33 year old actor has enormous talent, but it’s been often wasted in lackluster action films. There’s not much asked of him in The Grand Seduction, but he still holds his own despite it being unfamiliar “family-friendly” territory. Gleeson, on the other hand, isn’t a stranger to any genre at this point in his illustrious film career and is truly delightful as the idealistic Murray. The same can be said for Murray’s best friend, Simon (Gordon Pinsent). The veteran actor showcases a hilarious matter-of-fact crabbiness. If any one of the actors in The Grand Seduction wasn’t fun and convincing, the film wouldn’t be fun to watch (and the ruse wouldn’t work, for that matter). That’s one of the beauties of seeing a film in which you’re absolutely positive how each scene will begin and end — if the characters are enjoyable to spend time with, then the film will be too.
The Grand Seduction is currently playing at the Embarcadero Cinemas.