An English-language remake of the 2004 Sundance Film Festival audience award winner "Seducing Dr. Lewis," "The Grand Seduction" transports that modern fable from Quebec to Newfoundland and Labrador. Aside from the change of vernacular and scenery, the new film retells the story virtually verbatim. This is good and bad, considering how unmemorable the original was.
To lure a petrochemical byproduct repurposing facility to an impecunious former fishing village, its welfare-collecting inhabitants must muster a resident doctor and a hefty bribe. Caught possessing cocaine, plastic surgeon Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch, here channeling Sam Rockwell) finds his only recourse is to agree to spend a month in the village. Led by acting Mayor Murray French (Brendan Gleeson), the townsfolk put on a big charade to convince the city slicker that this is where he truly belongs.
Better known as a utility player acting in arty Canadian fare from the likes of Atom Egoyan and David Cronenberg, director Don McKellar seems an unlikely choice for such a saccharine crowd pleaser. But his direction comes across as competent and sincere.
While "Seducing Dr. Lewis" had a dull made-for-TV look, Douglas Koch's cinematography makes "The Grand Seduction" seem picturesque and lovely enough to pass as a tourism commercial for Newfoundland and Labrador. Yet despite this notable cast, the remake never manages to drum up much excitement for its sleepy hamlet rousing or for its characters, finally filled with purpose.
"The Grand Seduction."
MPAA rating: PG-13 for suggestive material and drug references.
Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes.