In a summer apparently bereft of movies designed to appeal to those who actually like to think, comes this meandering, tongue-in-cheek Canadian meditation on old geezers, sleepy villages, cricket and the scourge of long-term unemployment. If we’re forced to endure the weeks between now and Labor Day with nothing more than the latest installment of teeny bopper science fiction franchises, this cinematic confection should appeal to those prepared to relax and watch a grizzled old pro spin a bit of film gold out of 2 hours of otherwise movie dross.
Ireland’s Brendan Gleason, (Gangs of New York, Braveheart, Cold Mountain, Troy, various Harry Potters) heads an all-Canadian cast as Murray French, the self-elected leader of Tickle Cove, a picturesque fishing village gone moribund due to fishing regulations which render the townspeople increasingly dependent on government welfare checks. But when a prospective waste-recycling plant advertises for possible site locations, Murray sees it as a way to bring jobs (and the attendant dignity they provide) back to his decaying hometown. But there’s a catch; communities without a doctor (and enough cash to grease a few palms) hasn’t a chance.
Then fate--in the form of a cocaine bust at an airline security checkpoint—washes one Dr. Lewis (Taylor Kitsch) up on the shores of Tickle Cove, providing Murray and his co-conspirators 30 days to convince this medical city mouse of the joys of practicing in the boondocks. Generous amounts of booze, the promise of sex with the local post-mistress and bald-faced lies about the town’s passion for the doctor’s favorite sport soon have him convinced life in Tickle Point might be the perfect career move. Now Murray just needs a highly irregular loan from the local branch bank…</p>
With 87 films to his credit and nearly a dozen more on the way, it’s unfortunate that U.S. audiences haven’t had the opportunity to see Gleason playing the kind of leading roles he’s capable of. His few star turns haven’t had wide reception – but as a profanely irascible Irish cop (The Guard), a breezily relaxed mobster (The General) or an aging hit man (In Bruges) this brilliant former high school teacher consistently delivers superb performances. Built like an NFL defensive lineman and possessed of an irrepressible grin, Gleason is a consistently commanding screen presence who deserves bigger roles and more recognition.
Without someone of his mesmerizing charm, Seduction would never get airborne. But thanks to a host of gnarly supporting cast members, Kitsch’s sweet naiveté and the brazen con games Tickle Point’s citizens pull off, this bemused shaggy dog of a movie proves a welcome respite from the cookie-cutter blockbusters Hollywood’s currently being shoveled into America’s theaters and down the throats of their customers. Never hilarious but consistently amusing, The Grand Seduction lives up to its title. And its offhand observations about both the necessity for good paying jobs and the dignity they provide ought to be required viewing for America’s politicians.
The Verdict-Short on expensive pyrotechnics, but long on charm and small town atmosphere, this one’s like a good book and a warm glass of milk at bedtime.
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