This is a “remake” of fellow Canadian production, the 2003 La grande séduction which also looks lovely (I’ll have to give it a watch). It all takes place in the harbour (don’t call it a village) of Tickle Head, Newfoundland where all residents, bar a few, are unemployed. With fishing no longer an option, the only alternative is to apply for a “Petrochemical Byproduct Re-purposing Facility” i.e.a petrochemical factory. However, the catch is this…they need a resident doctor in order to be considered and, well…they don’t have one. In addition, the local residents need some convincing that they should care and hope for something more than the monthly welfare payouts.
Luckily, former-Tickle-Head-mayor-now-airport-security Tom (Lawrence Barry) finds cocaine stashed away in Dr Lewis’ (Taylor Kitsch) bag as he is returning from a cricket tour. And so it starts…Dr Lewis goes to Tickle Head for a month as the doctor and no charges of possession will be pressed. That gives the harbor just enough time to convince him to stay on permanently thus giving them the much needed factory.
Headed by Murray (the wonderful Brendan Gleeson) residents give the harbour a clean and revamp to make a good first impression. Being big hockey fans, they even learn to play cricket (which they though was an animal) and pretend that is their passion, all because Dr Lewis is a cricket fanatic. Ah, it is absolutely lovely how they go about kitting out their “team”. I don’t want to mention much more because you absolutely have to see this for yourself. Together with all the other “little” gestures to make the place enticing. Naturally, all with an ulterior motive.
The other scene that has always stuck with me is their method of “inflating” the number of residents to the required amount. It brings a big smile to my face just thinking about it. In fact, the whole movie is special. What adds to the charm is the various characters, each one so endearing, full of charm which gives that authentic small village/harbour feel. Brendan Gleeson always impresses – he is great in everything he does. After having watched Canadian Taylor Kitsch in only one previous role (and movie) I didn’t think much of, I was thoroughly impressed by him in The Grand Seduction. I guess it is a case of never judge an actor by the only role you’ve seen him in.
Canadian Gordon Pinset is Simon, Murray’s “sidekick”, for which he won the Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role at the Canadian Screen Awards. Well deserved!
The scenery is beautiful. It tempts me to go see it for myself. I love visiting small towns and villages – there is always something special about these places away from the hectic city life.
So…give this one a go. I’m almost certain you’ll find yourself grinning from ear to ear. And I promise to give the “original” a watch too.