Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Movie Log: Seducing Dr. Lewis

Every so often, there's a small movie about quirky people in some small village, somewhere picturesque but downtrodden, and their relationship with an outsider -- think Local Hero. Seducing Dr. Lewis is the Quebecois version of that story.

In the small fictional town of St.-Marie-la-Mauderne, the men used to be stalwart fishermen, and vigorously pleased their wives when they came back from the sea. (This is explained, only very slightly euphemistically, in the first five minutes of the movie.) But something unexplained happened to stop the fishing, and now nearly the entire population of St. Marie is on the dole, and unhappy about it.

(It's a good enough dole for them to continue to live in their houses and raise their families as they always have, so some right-wing ideologues might think the problem here is that these people don't have enough incentive to get off their duffs and find work. But the movie is solidly Canadian; it prefers work to handouts, but doesn't see anything morally wrong with handouts. Come to think of it, it doesn't see anything morally wrong with bribes, either.)

Anyway, St. Marie has the chance to get a "factory," but they need to have a resident doctor for the company in question to plant their factory there. (They also need to raise the money for that bribe, and to lie about how many people live there, but those are comparatively minor points.)

Through the machinations of an only mildly corrupt policeman, a coke-snorting plastic surgeon named Dr. Lewis (David Boutin) from "the city" (clearly Quebec) is sent up to St. Marie for a month, and the entire village, goaded by new mayor Germain Lesage (Raymond Bouchard), sets out to charm him off his feet by pretending to like cricket, among other things. There is, inevitably, a pretty girl in the town whom Dr. Lewis takes a shine to, but that's a very minor part of the movie -- it's mostly about Germain seducing Dr. Lewis.

Seducing Dr. Lewis is a film that sets its sights on being charming, and lives and dies by how well it lives up to that aim. The Wife and I enjoyed it, and were charmed, so we considered it a success. But if you've watched Waking Ned Devine, Local Hero, etc. recently, you may find this film to be second-hand and derivative.

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