Here’s another Brendan Gleeson movie review, posted for Begorrathon, a month celebrating all things Irish. It also gives you a great view of the rural coastal area of Newfoundland, should you want to travel to this gem of a Canadian province.
The island province of Newfoundland, in Canada, is still dotted with small fishing villages around the coast, many of which are still only accessible by boat. These fishing villages are dying out due to the collapse of the fishing stocks on the Grand Banks and the population is either abandoning the villages for work in the cities, or trying to attract new businesses if they can. The movie is about the fate of Tickle Head, a village that has suffered. Most of the residents are collecting welfare aside from the few that own or work in local businesses such as the small bank or the post office or local pub. But there’s a chance that they can attract a petrochemical factory, with jobs and a new lease on life for the village and it’s residents. They only thing they need to have in order to put in a bid for the factory is a resident doctor and therein lies the problem. They haven’t had one of those in 8 years.
Gleeson’s character, Murray, is the driving force behind the search for and persuading of a new doctor. Meanwhile, Murray’s wife has left him for a job in St. John’s, the capital city of the province and we also notice that the Mayor and his family do a midnight flit to the city as well. How to find a doctor? Well, coincidentally, a young and arrogant city doctor is changing flights in St. John’s and is caught with cocaine. The security guard just happens to be that former mayor and he sentences the doctor to spend a month in Tickle Head, working for free and he charges Murray and the rest of the residents to do their best to make Tickle Head seem like a really great place to work, hoping that the doctor won’t want to leave but without telling him the real reason why they need him.
To get out of the drug charge, Dr. Paul Lewis agrees. Now, Paul is a cricket player and fan and one of the funniest scenes in the movie has the residents trying to figure out how to play cricket and cobbling together white uniforms. As the new doctor is being ferried into the harbour by boat, he sees a cricket match being played on the rocky hillside and is astonished and he insists on joining them. Oh no! Seeing as they really have no idea what they’re doing, will they be caught out? I won’t spoil it!
Other shenanigans include having the telephone operator spy on Paul’s phone calls, gleaning more likes and dislikes so that they can fine tune their Grand Seduction. Murray makes friends with Paul and most of the rest of the villagers stumble through their deception. The factory company throws a bit hitch in the plans and that adds to the overall difficulty. It’s a rocky road as the village struggles to survive while their brighter future is tantalizingly close yet just out of reach.
This movie is actually an English remake of a 2003 movie made in Quebec. It stars the venerable Canadian actor, Gordon Pinsent, and the Irish Brendan Gleeson. The humour is wry and dry and so typical of the wonderful down to earth natives of Newfoundland, one of Canada’s beautiful provinces. The movie was shot in Trinity Bay which you can visit by road, rather than boat. I thought it was a lovely little film, not really an unusual plot by any means but the characters are wonderful, the humour is a treat and the ending is, of course, happy. It’s available on DVD and BluRay.
Newfoundland is a grand province to visit. If you are into outdoor activities, the fishing and hiking are amazing. There’s a lot of history in this province, reportedly one of the earliest North American places founded by John Cabot over 500 years ago. The Vikings had a settlement here as well, even further back and you can visit the site a L’Anse Aux Meadows. Wildlife and bird watching enthusiasts will enjoy it here and the city, St. John’s, is a wonderful place to visit as well. (but mind the steep hills!) Outside of the city, you’ll probably need a vehicle as there isn’t a lot by way of public transportation.