What will the members of an isolated community do to attract a doctor? What won't they do? Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne is a microscopic fishing village on the rocky north shore of Quebec, just where it meets Labrador.

The fishery is declining, people are leaving, and the welfare payments, doled out by the pretty postmistress, Eve (Lucie Laurier), are humiliating. Ste Marie wants to diversify. All it needs to attract a plastic-bottle factory is a bribe of $50,000 and a doctor. They get a lucky break when a Montreal cop, who hails from Ste-Marie-la-Mauderne, stops the speeding plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Lewis (David Boutin), on his way home from a cricket match.

Now, the village has one month to convince the worldly young man that he wants to stay forever. The mayor, Germain (Raymond Bouchard), and several friends set out to make Dr. Lewis feel as welcome as possible. They embark on a collective effort to teach the francophone fishers how to play cricket. They flood the clinic with bogus ailments, they take Lewis fishing, they charm him with five dollar bills left nightly by a garden gnome, they force themselves to listen to incomprehensible jazz, and they bug the doctor's telephone to ascertain his tastes and commitments, broadcasting the intimate details of his faltering relationship with sultry Brigitte back in Montreal.

Eventually, Dr Lewis splits up with Brigitte, because she has been "dishonest" and he chooses to stay in Ste Marie because they are "genuine." The crisis arises near the end, when the townspeople realize that in order to keep Dr. Lewis for any time at all, they must own up to the charade of deception and offer to let him go.


If you liked "Waking Ned Devine" or "Local Hero," you will adore this film. It too trades on the global aspirations of quaint villagers as they run circles around naïve city folk in whose great good fortune they are eager to share.

In the real world, the plight of a remote community without a permanent doctor is an increasingly familiar problem, as medicine becomes hyper-specialized and the population, increasingly urbanized. Also relevant is the theme of small, struggling places in competition with each other for revitalizing industry: Ste Marie and nearby Blanc Sablon are played off against each other, just as Alabama, Michigan, and Ontario, for example, vie for new auto plants.

The town's name "La Mauderne"--is a delicious play on words--a homonym with "moderne" yet leaning toward "maudit" (damned; condemned). Raising funds for the bribe is a poignant subplot as Germain forces the local bank manager to wrestle with his conflicted allegiances to the village and to the bank. From both sides, the poor banker is threatened by the specter of extinction by ATM ("guichet automatique"), a mod-con that he fears to the point of paralysis, even as he boasts of owning the most modern house in town. Intriguingly, the bribe is never played as a travesty, but as a banal matter of "doing business."

The antics are so clumsy and transparent that viewers can only marvel at the gullibility of the supposedly intelligent Dr. Lewis. But he is more than willingly seduced by other things that they ignore: the genuine need for a doctor; the beauty of their treeless home that, they suspect, might seem bleak; and the novelty (for him) of their lives--catching fish, creating entertainment, eating simply, and drinking lots and lots of beer. Of course, he also has an eye on Eve. The wildly improbable and wonderfully backlit vista that is Lewis's first glimpse of his future home--white-clad, French-Canadian fishermen playing cricket on a rocky North Atlantic promontory--is a stroke of comedic genius, worthy of Buñuel.


In French with English subtitles. This film won the Sundance Film Festival's World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award.

Primary Source

MaxFilms Alliance Atlantis