A movie filmed in rural Newfoundland depicting the struggle for a tiny community trying to simply maintain has charmed viewers across the globe, and the film's director, along with one of the stars, say they hope the finished film stays true to the rural dynamic.

The Grand Seduction, filmed in the Trinity area, is making its Newfoundland and Labrador premiere Monday night at Cineplex Theatres in the Avalon Mall.

The film focuses on the struggle a tiny town called Tickle Cove must go through to keep a city doctor, in order to avoid financial ruin.


Actors Brendan Gleeson, left, and Taylor Kitsch in a scene from The Grand Seduction. Gleeson says the crew of the film tried hard to stay true to the Newfoundland and Labrador spirit throughout the film. (Duncan de Young/Max Films)

Director Don McKellar said the film has already been shown in cities in the U.S. and Canada, as well as other places across the globe, and has been well-received everywhere.

McKellar told CBC's On The Go host Ted Blades he hopes the local crowd is equally charmed with his attempt to accurately portray rural Newfoundland lifestyle.

"That's kind of my other hope that if we really rooted it in Newfoundland and got that down then it would translate, you know that old theory that the specific is the universal, and it plays really, really well," said McKellar.

"That was my hope, that I'd be able to capture something of the beauty and the spirit, and it works so I'm pretty happy."

Irish actor Brendan Gleeson, from films like Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Gangs of New York, said keeping a message about the threat to small, rural communities was an important part of the film.

"There was an underpinning of a real situation that is kind of tragic, in a way, with these communities under such threat," said Gleeson.

"I think we managed to keep the core of that there, and at the same time there's so much joy in it so I'm kind of really interested to see what the St. John's audience tonight [think], that's when I'll be able to look and say, 'OK, it works.'"

Guiding hands

Gleeson and McKellar, both CFAs (Come From Aways), said there was concern they would be unable to stay true to a Newfoundland and Labrador identity during the filming process, but had help from homegrown talent.

OTG Brendan Gleeson Don McKellar

From left, actor Brendan Gleeson, CBC's On The Go host Ted Blades and director Don McKellar in the St. John's studio on Monday. Gleeson and McKellar are in St. John's for the premiere of their film, The Grand Seduction. (CBC)

With a cast including local stars like Mark Critch and Gordon Pinsent, Gleeson said there was always an authenticity ensured in the acting.

"There was a lot of really serious addressing of that cultural question and trying not to be outsiders, looking for local colour … we wanted to kind of keep that straight, and there was a struggle with that at all points without getting too grim, to make sure that we stayed true to what it was about," said Gleeson.

"Everywhere, we got nothing but reinforcement and validation from people. But Mark [Critch] and all the Newfoundland actors, and Gordon [Pinsent], of course, we kept getting this hand on our back all the time guiding us through it."

McKellar said there was a similar dynamic present in the 2003 Quebec version of the film that was easy to translate to this province.

"[Making the Newfoundland and Labrador version] made sense to me because it's a real community — it's a real separate culture," he said.

"It has its own identity, and that's what I thought it really needed was a grounding in an identity, so it made sense to me. And the Newfoundlanders also have the humour that would make it work and I knew that they had the actors, too, so it made sense to me."

The Grand Seduction is set to open to the public May 30.