Cinema Signal:

Lonely Planet Quebec
by Steve Kokker

. "Seducing Doctor Lewis" (aka, "La Grande Seduction")

From the small northern island of Ste. Marie-La Mauderne in Quebec, Canada comes this low budget British-style comedy. Think "The Full Monty" wherein a group of working class blokes whose steel factory shut down got together to solve their problem of unemployment while producing some laughs.

Here, it's a fishing village whose fish stock has been depleted, putting these hard working villagers on the dole. Since they think well of themselves only when they're earning a living, they are miserable and mortified as they line up for their weekly checks, even though the gal who distributes them at the post office, Eve Beauchemin (Lucie Laurier) is a world class beauty. But more about her later.

The source of hope is that a company is considering building a factory on the island, a development that would bring back employment and happiness to the prideful inhabitants. The potential deal-breaker, however, is that the investors' insurer requires a doctor in residence and there's no such thing in this isolated enclave. The closest medical practitioner to be found would be across the pond in the big city.

Coincidentally, a serendipitous highway infraction with a community service option allows young, handsome plastic surgeon Christopher Lewis (David Boutin) to be lured to the island for a one month penance. The objective for town leader Germain Lesage (Raymond Bouchard), his family and his townsfolk, is to somehow convince the good man to stay for five years.

But Lewis has a girlfriend, a practice and a life at home. Eve's beauty, (see, I promised you more on her) is an attraction, and while he's not above a little flirtation, the romance potential can't be realized while things are so cozy for the doctor with his hometown sweetie. Eve's a bit standoffish because she knows about the girlfriend. There are no secrets on these shores.

I hate to get picky but the manipulations of this story line wrap it in a fog of unintended fantasy. Okay, so we know that a handsome, eligible doctor isn't going to move to a dying community on a permanent basis without a beautiful available woman in the picture. To furnish this essential ingredient, Eve is injected not only into the framework but on the posters to help sell the movie. But her brief screen time isn't enough to allow her to steal the show because this isn't a love story. She's little more than an unattached presence with no family, no ties, no history and out of place. She's the bait in a fish story -- for the protagonist as well as the demographic.

If you go along with it, there are a few rib ticklers in the chicanery that Germain puts the town through to make the doctor become attached to the place. He and his plotting cohorts come up with a phony cricket match to satisfy Dr. Lewis' sports preference (a Keystone Kops moment), followed by planting a dollar bill for him to "luckily" find every night in the same spot; then they quickly add an item to the menu of a local diner that they discover (through tapping his phone!) to be his favorite; and, they even resort to that worn clich‚ of manually hooking a "catch" of frozen fish on his line, etc. All the deception is with good intentions (so it's all right) and plenty of snags are thrown into the grand plan to keep the tide of interest up. It's performed by a group of characters who range from dull to spirited, from local first-timers to a sprinkling of pros.

Despite awkward moments of staging and character schtick, first-time director Jean-Francois Pouliot, with a script by Ken Scott, attempts a variation on The Full Monty's message about dignity and self-worth. He comes out with an endearing comedy for anyone who can disregard contrived writing. Those who examine it more closely will see it as a poorly crafted fabrication in which credibility is cast aside when a laugh can be landed. While the actors are keeping you amused by making the most of the strained premise, the characters behind the venture are, with a wink, wink, hoping you won't notice their desperate play for a giggle, a plot line and a marketing gimmick.

                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  


List of reviews:
Release order
Alphabetical order
To Jbmovies
(sample frames from movies photographed
by Jules Brenner)


Raymond Bouchard and David Boutin
the conspirator and the conspiree
Help us to continue
bringing you these reviews...
visit our sponsors