Comedies of small-town life form a venerable genre. The novelty element in Seducing Doctor Lewis is that the French-Canadian town of Sainte-Marie-La-Mauderne may well be the smallest ever seen on screen.
There are so few homes and inhabitants here that a single factory would be enough to keep everyone happily employed. But the town is so under-resourced that it cannot raise government approval for even this tiny piece of industry. Unless, that is, there is a resident doctor.
Enter the cynical city-slicker Christopher (David Boutin). He is paying driving-violation dues by spending a brief period in Sainte-Marie-La-Mauderne (jokingly described as La Moderne). So it is up to the locals to launch "la grande séduction" (which is the film's original title) – planting money for him to casually find, faking a love of cricket and ensuring that his favourite meals are always available at the diner.
There is no sex, drugs or rock'n'roll in this story – only copious amounts of booze and Christopher's maddening collection of jazz-fusion albums. This communal deception, led by the garrulous Germain (Raymond Bouchard), seems to work well because the prey responds warmly to rather simple pleasures.
It also helps that the townspeople keep Christopher's phone tapped, and can scale their seduction to the ups and downs of his personal life.
Ken Scott's script is a simple but pleasing confection, and director Jean-François Pouliot (making his feature debut) handles the ensemble cast well.
The best aspect of the film is the unselfconscious way it treats middle-aged and older characters as earthy creatures who want the dignity of a job as well as the joy of sex.
© Adrian Martin January 2005