Wednesday 27 August 2014

From the archive: "Seducing Doctor Lewis"

As if it weren't regrettable enough that the British film industry can't find its way towards funding anything other than gentle nonsense of the Kinky Boots school, now UK distributors have started to import foreign variations on this most formulaic and predictable of themes. Seducing Doctor Lewis is the Quebecois variant: a big city doctor is sent to serve a month's probation in a remote fishing community where the locals are jobless, short on spirits, and desperately in need of the factory that's been mooted to open in the area. To get the factory, however, the residents must keep the doctor around long-term - and so the town's mayor initiates a full-on charm offensive. And so it pootles along. Someone confuses cricket (the sport) with cricket (the insect). Beef stroganoff gets translated into beef struggle-off. There's even a sad-eyed town lovely for the good doctor to fall for.

In French-speaking Canada (where the film swept the board at the national film awards) and even perhaps Sundance (where it won the Audience Award in 2004), Seducing Doctor Lewis may still count as a charming retro novelty. UK audiences, though, will surely have seen this yarn spun so many times before - with either Rob Morrow (Northern Exposure), Michael J. Fox (Doc Hollywood) or Martin Clunes (Doc Martin) in the title role - for it to register as anything other than the most careworn and calculated of diversions. Another whimsy-heavy evocation of small-town life foisted upon us by individuals who live in luxury apartment blocks in major metropolitan areas, it finally feels just a bit too much like hard quirk.

(April 2006)

Seducing Doctor Lewis is available on DVD through Dogwoof; an English-language remake, The Grand Seduction, opens in cinemas nationwide from tomorrow.

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