Seducing Dr. Lewis (Le Grand Séduction) Made in: Canada Language: French Director: Jean-François Pouliot Starring: Raymond Bouchard, David Boutin, Pierre Collin, Benoît Brière, Nadia Drouin, Caroline Néron, Lucie Laurier Year: 2003
Synopsis: In the tiny Canadian village of St. Marie-La-Mauderne, accessible only by boat, life is getting worse. For generations it was a prosperous fishing locale, but now its once-proud citizens are largely unemployed and face the routine humiliation of having to depend on government welfare checks in order to survive.
When their mayor leaves for Montreal to take a job as a policeman, it's up to the flawed but clever (and occasionally drunk) Germaine Lesage (Raymond Bouchard) to take over as the village's leader. The only hope for St. Marie-La-Mauderne, and its roughly one-hundrend and twenty citizens, is allowing a small factory to be built nearby. The factory would create jobs for the locals and revive the local economy.
But by law, the village is required to have a local doctor or else the factory can't be built. Since the nearest hospital is a two-hour boat ride away, Germaine and his neighbors must find a way to entice a doctor to not only visit, but relocate to their rustic fishing town.
By chance, a young doctor by the name of Christopher Lewis (David Boutin) comes to St. Marie-La-Mauderne. With only one month to convince him to stay, Germaine and the villagers resort to all sorts of crazy schemes to make their town seem like the ideal place for Dr. Lewis to call home.
The Good: Seducing Dr. Lewis is a well-made, amusing story that provides genuine laughs and a straightforward story. The characters are distinct, believable, and very natural.
The cinematography is great, and it's refreshing to take a peek at a section of rural Canadian life that most people (in America, at least) may not even be aware of. The depiction of small town life is meant to be comical, but the filmmakers are never snobbish nor mean-spirited in their depiction.
The lengths the villagers go to get the doctor to stay are well thought-out, clever, and pretty compelling for the most part. Especially funny is how the townsfolk pretend to have a local cricket team, knowing that Dr. Lewis is a huge cricket fan. And in the end, the underlying message about honesty, friendship, and the consequences of deception are neither melodramatic nor preachy.
The Bad: The whole "city slicker-comes-to-small-town" scenario is nothing new, and the "just-be-yourself" message is also familiar to anyone who's watched movies before. Seducing Dr. Lewis doesn't do anything extraordinarily new with those ideas.
The climax is a little abrupt, and I thought more could have been done to develop the friendship between Germaine and the young doctor.
Who would like this movie: Seducing Dr. Lewis is for you if you like foreign films, and are in the mood for a relaxing, somewhat mature movie. It's geared towards older audiences, so there's no pop culture stuff or blinding special effects. But it's a good example of how low budgets and coherent storytelling can produce successful films.