The premise of The Great Seduction, which was that a whole town was going to come together to deceive a doctor to convince him to stay with them, felt rather exciting to us. It was the first time in a while that we couldn’t guess what the narrative would offer us. However, there was a promise here of a special emotional connection not just between the characters but between them and the audience. The Great Seduction‘s ending was predictable, and we knew that everything would work out, but what we were looking for was the journey of how that happened.
There should have been some good comedy, some honest depictions of the sincerity of the residents of the town, and just an overall love for the things around. With that missing, The Great Seduction feels rather hollow as a film. Honestly, this isn’t the first underwhelming film we have seen, but it is the first in a while that let us down after promising an interesting premise. Either way, let us move on to the recap.
Why does Santa Maria need a full-time doctor?
German has been in love with Santa Maria for as long as he can remember. It is a sparsely populated, small fishing town where life is slow and good and people are happy. But when a fishing company opens up in the next town, Santa Maria’s fishermen go out of business, and over time, most of them migrate to the bigger cities or to the US for better opportunities. German’s brother is one of them, and only German is left behind, with his wife and kid, in the small town. It might have continued to be an idyllic life, except that the people of the town live on unemployment benefits to make ends meet.
German not only gets his check from the government but also one in his mother’s name, even though she passed away quite a while ago. Things are manageable, but it is not a good life, and German’s wife, Maria, wants to move to the city where she has gotten a job. But German decides to stay back. It is not a good look for the town or for German’s future when he comes to know that there might just be a solution to this mess. The fishing company would set up a plant in the town of Santa Maria and could get a doctor to move there full-time, as it was part of some insurance that the company needed. This is all German needs—a ray of hope for him to work with. However, it ends up involving far more details than he initially bargained for, but he is not going to back down anymore, not after finally finding a solution after years of struggle.
The first thing that the town needs is a doctor, and the second is to convince the man from the company that their population is 220 and not 120. The latter requirement is met by some very careful deceit, by taking the man around town and making sure that all places are packed without letting him realize that it is the same people shifting from one place to another. The third requirement is to arrange a sum of money to pay as a deposit, for the company to be interested in the town. It is a bribery of sorts, and there is no getting around it. Therefore, German and his friend keep asking the bank manager to get their loan approved, but it is not in his hands as much as it is up to his superiors. He has worked in the bank for the last eighteen years, and his job has been to give people their unemployment checks. It is a running joke that he deserves to be replaced with an ATM, but when that statement came from someone in the bank, the manager believes he has had enough, and he sanctions the loan himself, getting the town the funds it needs. The only missing link now is the doctor.
Does Mateo Decide To Stay In Santa Maria?
The doctor, Mateo, is being sent to Santa Maria as punishment for an obscene act he committed on his boss’ car. The people of Santa Maria come to a decision to manipulate him as much as is needed for him to decide to stay there. They tap his phone to understand what he is thinking of at all times; they pretend to have a culture of football because the doctor likes that, and they also use a lot of his personal information to form a connection with him. German pretends to have lost his brother as a child because the same thing happened with the doctor. He even lies and says that Ana likes Mateo because nothing ties a person to a place like romance does. Not only this, but the doctor finds a note near the water every day, which makes him think that the place is lucky for him.
Finally, despite there being many people in need of medical advice, German starts regulating them so as not to overburden the doctor and make him enjoy working in the town. While all this plays out in a very boring manner, especially the part with the frozen fish, what we fail to understand is: where is the authenticity of the townspeople? They were all putting on an act, but there had to be something for the doctor to find a reason to stay back. During this time, Mateo discovers that his fiancé has been cheating on him with his best friend. It means that he literally has no reason left to go to the mainland and can easily stay on this island.
But while pulling off this charade, German finally grows a conscience. He realizes that he shouldn’t have done what he did, and we find this hard to digest because this happens rather randomly, like a snap we didn’t see coming. When Mateo says that he wants to stay in Santa Maria, German says that they have decided to go with another doctor. As a dejected Mateo is talking to Ana, he finds out the truth and is furious with the townspeople. However, he decides to stay back anyway at the end of The Great Seduction because the boatman said something nice about seeing sunsets through cracks. It is as shallow and disconnected as it sounds, and we dislike the fact that even at the end, Mateo probably did not know the complete truth of how much he was stalked. However, with all the pieces in place, the tide turns for Santa Maria, and it is once again the bustling town it used to be many years ago. Maria returns to German, and it is a happy ending for everyone.
The Great Seduction offers the audience nothing at all. The characters are bland, their scheming lacks the element of comedy no matter how hard they try, and the emotions are just not there. It is especially annoying since we would have settled for average cliches, but even that seemed to have been too much effort for the makers of this film. Netflix needs to start making better investments in its content.