Film Review: Dr. Knock
Director: Lorraine Levy
Cast: Omar Sy, Alex Lutz, Ana Girardot, Sabine Azéma, Pascal Elbé, Audrey Dana
Running Time: 113
Australian Distributor: Umbrella Entertainment
This French comedy drama is directed by Lorraine Levy, who directed the moving and thought provoking The Other Son. With Dr Knock, she also wrote the screenplay by adapting a popular French play by Jules Romains. French audiences would presumably come at this with an assumed knowledge of the source material, but it doesn’t matter much as the story of a doctor arriving at a small community and having to win them over is familiar enough.
In this version the eponymous Dr Knock is played by Omar Sy. Sy has been rightly hailed as one the next big things in French cinema ever since his winning turn, alongside Francois Cluzet, in The Intouchables. Sy is a big presence and his natural charm and sometimes sardonic expression makes him good casting as the morally ambiguous Doctor.
When we first see Knock he is a con man on the run from other cons. After a narrow escape, he goes into hiding and then reinvents himself as a doctor. He arrives at a pretty little provincial village and replaces the previously lackadaisical GP. Knock knows how to prey on the superstitions and hypochondriac tendencies of the villagers and soon sets about using this skill to line his own pockets.
Simply watching him fleece the credulous villagers – whether they deserve it or not – wouldn’t be enough, so the film must introduce dilemmas for our ‘hero’ too. The main ones come in the form of the local priest (Alex Lutz) who resents Knock’s popularity and sets out to discredit him. The other is a romantic entanglement in the form of Adele (the ever-charming Ana Giradot). Their shy romance is not realised in a very full way, but it provides some sweet touches even so.
Levy has some fun with the incidental characters and her cast includes many stalwart character actors who give the film density. The period costumes, cars and settings are also nicely done and add to the visual appeal. Sy is never less than watchable but somehow, when the film is over, you feel that it was a passing fever quickly cured and forgotten.
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