You may be familiar with the French Canadian film La Grande Séduction, which came out in 2003. In 2012, producer Roger Frappier collaborated with original screen writer Ken Scott, to make an English Canadian version. Later in the same year, director Don McKellar joined to realize The Grand Seduction.
The Grand Seduction takes place in Tickle Head, Newfoundland, where a small population of only 120 live. Tickle Head seems dead; nobody works and everybody collects welfare checks, which at some point are compared to “shame checks.” The harbour becomes hopeless – even the mayor decides to bail in the middle of the night. Murray French (Brendan Gleeson), the main character of the film, does not want to give up on his town and decides to take the responsibility to fix Tickle Head.
The only way to get Tickle Head out of its misery is to find a permanent doctor so the town can land a contract to secure the only factory they have, offering employment to everyone. When Doctor Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch) arrives and is expected to stay for only a period of thirty days, the town of Tickle Head tries to seduce him. The people come together to clean the town and to make it look more appealing for the doctor. They use what they know about Dr. Lewis’ personal life to seduce him further. For instance, the town discovers he is a fanatic of the sport cricket, the Indian meal lamb dhansak, and also cocaine! Forget about hockey – everybody becomes an expert on cricket overnight and the only restaurant in the harbour becomes an Indian buffet. Lies after lies are being told to Dr. Lewis in hopes of becoming the permanent doctor of Tickle Head.
Everyone seems to join in the game and lie to the doctor, expect one lady, Kathleen (Liane Balaban). She is the only one who does not try to seduce him, because, well, lying has never been the best policy. The Grand Seduction does not follow the regular romantic clichés and it adds to the authenticity of the story. The movie has an hopeful ending, leading the town of Tickle Head to happier future where people are working again and their days are “once filled with purposes.” They may not be rich, but they are comfortable again. Families are growing; kids are going back to universities. But most importantly, the town of Tickle Head has an immense feeling of pride.
The Grand Seduction brings back the importance of storytelling while using vivid colours and beautiful landscapes. It feels very Canadian; it feels like home. From beginning to end, I became attached to the characters and realized how important it is to come together in time of need. It is a charming story with wonderful and enthusiastic acting. The humour is extremely pleasant – ironic, sarcastic, and sometimes exaggerated, which makes audience laugh throughout the film. As Taylor Kitsch said at the premiere of the film on May 15th, it’s a “great feel-good film.”
The film is a honest portrayal of an important issue currently happening on those lands. The inaccessibility of employment in villages, smaller towns, and harbours is a serious problem that needs our attention. It seems like cities have forgotten about what is going on next door; they need doctors, jobs, and money too. They deserve to be equally treated and obtain the same access as crowded cities. In The Grand Seduction, harbours like Tickle Head have hope. They needed labour and they wanted some sort of purpose in their lives and in Dr. Lewis and they found it.
THE GRAND SEDUCTION is in theatres starting May 30.
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