Seducing Doctor Lewis
Wow, what a beautifully realised film this one is, it is close to being the perfect small movie. It comes as no surprise that it outsold such movies as LOTR and Matrix on its home turf, and has picked up a few awards. I tried to see it in last year's Festival but something went wrong and I never got there. The extra bonus tonight was that it was free - Rialto and Stella Artois were putting it on as a private screeing as some kind of promotion but such is the smartness of the Rialto management that they advertised it on their website. So they were all "well we can't charge you, just duck in and watch it". Sweet as! Most of the people in there seemed to be older people (as were most of the people in the movie) who really enjoyed it: there was a continuous sound of belly laughter once the film started.
The movie was very Northern Exposurish in its story but imbued with the spirit of Waking Ned Devine. Reviewers far more familiar with Ealing comedies than I see it is a transplanted Ealing Comedy. Quite a transplant! It is set in a tiny fishing village of 120 people on an island off the coast of Quebec (Harrington Harbour) to which access is first by ferry and then fishing boat. Fishing has dried up, so to help get the inhabitants off welfare, they try to get a plastic container factory started. As you do. To do that, they need a doctor, but no doctor would willingly go there - they prove that by sending out a letter to every doctor in Quebec. But then its their lucky day - an Islander is a policeman in Montreal and just happens to bust a doctor for carrying drugs: he informally sentnces the doctor to a month back home.
Of course, the islanders are all keen to make him stay, thus the "seducing" of Doctor Lewis. They miss the truly obvious ploy (setting a beautiful woman to woo him, and man is Lucie Laurier a beautiful woman (unfortunately, she is nude in the only other photos I have found of her, its very sad). They think that setting up a cricket match for his enjoyment (despite the fact that none of them had ever heard of the game - that's almost enough to make it paradise itself - so that when the good doctor turns up, they're in the embarrassing position of having a fully equipped cricket team with no clues as to how to play), dropping random bits of money for him to find and bugging his telephone so they can find out what he likes and supply it (again, their ignorance gets in the way when they don't know what beef stroganoff is, leading to the village cook being asked to make beef bugger off) will do the trick. Now - that's a complex sentence. Oh, and then there's the fishing, which leads to them having to explain to Dr Lewis how he came to catch a dead frozen fish (put on his line by a scuba diver, since he was so bad at fishing).
Being a comedy, it naturally all works out nicely - he's having a good time and all, but grandad's ancient folk lore comes to the fore: its easy enough to hook a fish, but to land him, he's got to want to jump into the dinghy. Again, there's no deployment of their best weapon (and by now he's certainly interested in her): showing him he's not wanted is the way to make him want to stay.
There's other good stuff that happens along the way, quite a lot of gentle humour of the "you have to be there" variety and, also echoing Ned Devine, trickery against (a) the bank to get the money to help establish the factory and (b) the plastics company, who won't come unless there are 200 plus people. The problem is that there are 120 inhabitants, tops, and the factory people want to see 200. There are several couple of great pictures on the US distributor's website, including one of the two old timer main characters and another of Dr Lewis, Eve and a bit of the scenery.
Ooh - there's one other thing I have to mention from the opening scenes. The film opens when the villagers are still gainfully employed in their fishing: they come home, they eat dinner and then, all at the same time, the men go upstairs with their wives and satisfy them simultaneously, and then have a smoke. Cute. Cut to when the fishing is gone: now their synchronised action is going by the post office to pick up the dole cheque and cashing it at the bank.
I do believe that this film is about to get a release, I know its about to hit the Cinema Gold thingey in Palmerston North (and Oh My God, Invercargill has a Readings Cinema! Invercargill!).