Director: Don McKellar
Cast: Brendan Gleeson, Taylor Kitsch and Liane Balaban
Running Time: 113 minutes
Release Date: August 29th
Tickle Head, Newfoundland, is a proud, blue-collar fishing harbour. We know this because we’re told in an uneven narration from resident Murray French who paints a romantic view of the community where the happiness of the locals is measured by working hard and Jeunet-esque orgasmic choruses. But that was in the past. Nowadays, with the fishing industry gone, Tickle Head is a town full of men whose pride erodes with every welfare cheque. Hope appears in the shape of a petrochemical plant, promising to restore employment provided they can secure a full-time doctor. Luckily for them, a cricket-loving, coke-snorting one falls right in their laps. Now, if only they could make him stay.
The Grand Seduction is a remake of a 2003 French-Canadian movie of the same name — well, it’s called La grandé séduction. Its plot is essentially a blueprint for a fish out of water story; transplanting a city slicker out to the sticks and waiting for cultural clash comedy to manifest. (Incidentally, remakes from South Korea, France and Italy have all reached various stages of production.) That the doctor is from Toronto and the townsfolk from Newfoundland is irrelevant, although it will have you questioning why everyone sounds Irish except Brendan Gleeson, who’s lost somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s a mostly fine experience; there’s a charm and sweetness, and the stranger-in-a-strange-land jokes still manage to land for the most part even if you’ve telegraphed them scenes before. Kitsch and Gleeson make a likeable pair and the supporting cast, including a couple of elderly ladies roleplaying scenes from The Lives of Others, all give it all a good sense of place. With Fubar, co-writer Michael Dowse pretty much nailed on the Albertan metalhead subculture and is clever enough to pick up on the Newfie idiosyncrasies here too.
Yet, it doesn’t all sit so easy. Light-hearted as it may be, its core message is how a motherfracking oil company is the panacea for small town woes — like setting a movie on the Gulf of Mexico where BP get to save the day. Don McKellar handles the pace clumsily too, it feels both drawn out and too short. Kitsch introduction is so sudden, he may as well have been airdropped. The idea shows promise but never really delivers, it’s not the Grand Seduction, it’s the Great Deceit.