This is a perfectly charming film. “La Grande Séduction” comically celebrates the dignity of work and the assault on the human character that inevitably results from reliance upon government welfare for survival. The inhabitants of the small fishing village of Ste-Marie-La-Mauderne have refused to abandon their homes after the collapse of fishing, but lack the resident doctor a potential investor requires in order to build his factory in the town. “La Grande Séduction” (released in Anglophone cinemas as “Seducing Dr. Lewis”) depicts the efforts of prominent townsfolk to unite and persuade the arrogant city-slicker Dr. Lewis to sign up as doctor for their little corner of the world.
Fans of “Local Hero” or “Waking Ned Devine” will find the theme familiar, but with a remote corner of maritime Quebec substituting for the Celtic hinterlands of the British Isles. If anything, the film allows the viewer an opportunity to hear that charming Québécois back-country accent. There are also elements that will grate somewhat the prudish tendencies of Anglos like us, but one must make allowances for the Latin temperament that survives in la Nouvelle-France and the other Romance realms.
Overall, a celebration of place, work, and community, and an interesting exploration of the conflict between artificiality and authenticity.