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Seducing Dr Lewis
cast: Raymond Bouchard, Pierre Colin, David Boutin, Dominic Michon-Dagenais, and Guy-Daniel Tremblay

director: Jean-François Pouliot

104 minutes (15) 2003
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Warner Vision DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
You know how it is... you spend months and months waiting for a warm-hearted and slightly whimsical French-Canadian film to arrive, and then two turn up at once. Much like C.R.A.Z.Y., Seducing Dr Lewis (aka: La Grande séduction) is an export from Quebec. However, where C.R.A.Z.Y. is all about the birth of a culture and coming of age, Seducing Dr Lewis is all about maintaining a way of life, namely that of the small former fishing village of Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne.

With its fishing industry long-since gone and young people few and far between, the town is dying, the elderly residents kept alive by welfare payments while the possibility of real work in the city seems like a more and more attractive proposition. Then, out of the blue, the village gets a lifeline in the shape of the possibility of hosting a factory. Despite the promise of never having to pay a penny in tax, the village won't get the contract unless it gets itself a local doctor. Dr Lewis is a plastic surgeon living in the city when an unfortunate run in with a cop and a bag of cocaine sees him being sent to live in Ste-Marie for a month. The villagers decide to seduce him by tapping his phone and tailoring the town to his tastes and desires... even if this means giving up their beloved ice hockey in favour of cricket, taking an interest in jazz-fusion and making sure that he keeps 'finding' money around the place.

With a tone reminiscent of The Last Of The Summer Wine (except nobody suggests building a doctor out of a couple of old baths) and a plot that isn't a million miles away from the likes of Pixar's Cars or Michael J. Fox's Doc Hollywood, it would be tempting to see this film as yet another sentimentalist ode to living a quiet life in the country. However, the film itself utterly rejects this conclusion as the characters all yearn for the days when they can earn their money working and coming home to a loving family feeling just a little bit tired. Indeed, the film sees the whimsy of every day life not as something that emerges from an Amélie-style bohemian lifestyle, but from the realities of working, living, and having sex with someone you love.

With strong performances by Raymond Bouchard and Pierre Collin as the town's crafty mayor and his grizzled sidekick, and David Boutin doing well as the naive simp Dr Lewis, the largely elderly cast work beautifully with the script to create a film that is so utterly nice and gentle and warm-hearted, but you can't help but be taken in by it.

If I wanted to be critical of this film I'd point to the fact that despite being generally amusing, it's never hilarious, and point out that the absurdity of people playing cricket might well be lost on a British audience, but on the whole this is just a profoundly enjoyable way to spend an evening. and it's well worth a purchase or a rental if you're looking to have a pleasant evening in.
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