Sunday, June 1, 2014

Movie with Abe: The Grand Seduction

The Grand Seduction
Directed by Don McKellar
Released May 30, 2014

There's something about a small town that gives it a special appeal, an opportunity to disconnect from the fast-paced, constantly evolving modern metropolis. A village or a harbor can have even more of a pull. Sometimes such a place doesn't immediately attract outsiders, and so its residents have to try harder to make it seem likeable. Therein lies the premise of "The Grand Seduction," an endearing, enjoyable film about the harbor of Tickle Head and its desperate search for a resident doctor.

The film opens with a young Murray recalling how wonderful his childhood was with his father and the other men of the harbor strutting off to work every morning and coming home to a satisfied and happy family. In the present day, there are no jobs in Tickle Head, and everyone lines up to collect welfare checks. When the possibility of a factory with jobs for all emerges, all that's needed is a doctor. A chance meeting between a resident working security at the nearby airport and a doctor with cocaine in his belongings sets in motion an elaborate and enthralling deception to make Tickle Head the only place the doctor would ever want to stay.

To call "The Grand Seduction" a serious film wouldn't be accurate, but it knows exactly what it wants to be and succeeds wondrously at doing it. Never are there enormous stakes or moments of conflict, but the movie accepts that and treats it an asset, laying on the comedy in all the right places (the fact that the doctor finds money lying on the ground in the same spot every night is one such fantastic instance). It's immensely rewarding - and often hilarious - to watch the disgruntled people of Tickle Head reluctantly band together and try to transform the harbor into exactly what they think the doctor wants it to be.

The casting is possibly the best part of an already well-rounded film. Brendan Gleeson, no stranger to wry, sophisticated comedy, is excellent as the unlikely cheerleader of the harbor's success, Murray. Taylor Kitsch of "Friday Night Lights" fame is terrific as Paul, the doctor who is a relatively nice and harmless guy despite his initial bad boy plastic surgeon attitude. In the supporting cast, Gordon Pinsent and Liane Balaban lead a thriving ensemble as two other distinctive residents. This is an all-around great movie, and it's hard not to leave smiling and satisfied.


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