The Grand Seduction

Posted by Joel Copling on June 10, 2014

Beneath Douglas Koch's attractive lensing of the Canadian coastlines, Brendan Gleeson's empathetic lead performance as a newly appointed mayor, and the core of how that mayor's town so desperately needs a living to scrape for its downtrodden citizens, there is a hokey sense of inconsequence that a peppy sense of humor simply cannot stem. It also pivots upon a premise that is startlingly dishonest until tidying itself up with a nice, neat bow in one of the final scenes, but who's counting? Director Don McKellar and screenwriters Michael Dowse and Ken Scott are intent upon leaving as little an impact on their film's viewers as possible. Their plan succeeded.

Gleeson plays Murray French, who attains the position of mayor after the previous one left their little village--I do apologize, small harbor--of Tickle Head to take a job as an airport security official. Yes, you read that right. The harbor in which our characters live is named Tickle Head, and yes, one of the disappointments is not hearing it stated with a straight face at least twenty times before film's end. Anyway, Murray takes over the job of Tickle Head's (Seriously, stop laughing) mayor, as well as that of securing a contract with a big oil company. Their obstacle: to find a harbor doctor, as they currently don't have one.

Enter Dr. Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), a big-shot surgeon who is conveniently traveling for probably contrived reasons and takes on the position in a temporary capacity. Of course, this wouldn't be a movie with one's usual, three-act structure without conflict, here in the form of a town that stalks, wire-taps, and deceives him into loving their little harbor. "The Grand Seduction," then, boils down to a prolonged experiment in keeping the truth from the good doctor until the figurative shoe drops. This would be off-putting, but Dowse and Scott are unable to maintain this minimal level of suspense for seven minutes shy of two hours. The result is less emotionally dishonest than it is dramatically static.

Film Information

Brendan Gleeson (Murray French), Taylor Kitsch (Dr. Lewis), Liane Balaban (Kathleen), Gordon Pinsent (Simon), Rhonda Rodgers (Samantha), Mark Critch (Henry Tilley), Steve O'Connell (Joe), Michael Thierrault (Tripp's Assistant), Carly Boone (Lucy Tilley), Matt Watts (Frank Dalton), Morgan T. Lee (New Factory Worker).

Directed by Don McKellar and written by Michael Dowse and Ken Scott.

Featuring the voice of Anna Hopkins (Helen).

Rated PG-13 (suggestive material, drug references).

113 minutes.

Released in select cities on May 30, 2014.