Eccentric humour balances The Grand Seduction

The plot, based off of the French-Canadian original film Seducing Doctor Lewis, is set in a small Newfoundland harbour town.

For a movie filled with humour that had people in the audience chuckling over its straight, discrete comedy, The Grand Seduction has a darker plot that not even the film takes that seriously.

The plot, based off of the French-Canadian original film Seducing Doctor Lewis, is set in a small Newfoundland harbour town, which once prided itself on the dignity of the hardworking fishermen that lived there. They now cash welfare cheques and drink their days away.

Protagonist Murray (Brendan Gleesan) saw the opportunity to return the town to its former glory. He attempts to create job opportunities for locals by winning a bid to have a petrochemical factory choose the little harbour town as its home. What stands in his way? The town needs to increase its population to 250 adult citizens, with a full-time certified doctor in its midst.

Queue Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), who the town must convince with lies, deceit and manipulation — all played off with eccentric amusement — to call the town his home. The townspeople bleach tablecloths and curtains white to outfit the townsfolk in cricket uniforms to appease the cricket-loving doctor, tap his home phone to learn his favourite meals and pretend to enjoy the doctor’s favoured jazz music. These are just some of the movie’s humourous antics.

At the heart of all of this humour is a message about the effects of work on relationships and the state of the economy.

A woman leaves her family in the small harbour town for a job in the big city as a means of trying to gain some independence from what she sees as a struggling marriage, paralleling a man leaving the town for the same city after procuring a job there as a way of keeping his family together, whole and cared for.

The town’s deception of Paul reflects the current economy that we struggle in. The film is wise enough to not play it off for laughs.

The population of the town knows it’s in no state to deny 9-5 jobs or to disapprove of the company holding their cheques. It’s a gritty reality that the rest of the film’s humour (a scene where two old ladies listen in to Paul’s raunchy phone conversation with his fiancé springs to mind) balances out.