A handsome and intelligent new doctor moves into a small French town sometime in the 1950’s, to the delight of some and to the detestation of others. Can this charming new doctor really be trusted, or does he have ulterior motives?
The audience is first introduced to Dr. Knock when he holds no such title and is merely a poor man who works the streets pick pocketing and scamming his way to food for his empty belly. When he is given the opportunity to work on a ship for pay and food, he gladly says yes, although the position requires him to pretend to be a doctor, which can be difficult when you have no medical training or experience. This, though, does not stop Knock.
Five years later we meet the now medically trained and licensed Dr. Knock as he arrives in a small French village to take over the position of the local doctor. He wastes no time and jumps straight into scamming the trusting residents of the small town, manipulating them into believing they need medical attention and medication that isn’t necessary (giving the whole town a solid dose of hypochondria along the way). Despite most of the town fawning over the new arrival and his persuasive bedside manner, the local priest refuses to believe the actions of the new doctor are honest and is determined to reveal the ugly truth to his fellow villagers.
This dramatic comedy is hard to pin down as it provides a man doing something we would consider evil (scamming people from a position of power) as its protagonist who, in the end, wins favour with those he has scammed out of large amounts of money. There seems to be no particular moral lesson here other than the unfortunate message that if you mislead those around you for money they will love and adore you, even when the truth comes to light.
The film’s setting is one of the true highlights of Dr. Knock, showcasing the beauty of the small provincial towns that are dotted around the stunning French countryside. From winding, mountain-side roads that look like they’ve been pulled straight from the Tour De France to the beautifully rustic stone houses that make up the provincial township, you’ll feel right at home amongst the charmingly French townsfolk.
Omar Sy, known for his brilliant performances in The Intouchables and Chocolat, leads the cast as the handsome and charming Dr. Knock. Sy plays the role well, though his character slips into a shallow mediocrity at times, especially when surrounded by many larger-than-life townsfolk. The mix of unusual and somewhat bizarre characters, played exceptionally well by many of the supporting cast, carry much of the interest in the film providing many a chuckle here and there, especially the slightly dim-witted local postman played brilliantly by Belgian actor, Christian Hecq.
Overall, Dr. Knock is a pleasant film to watch with no over-the-top drama or challenging topics. Instead it provides the tale of a poor man working hard to change his life situation, though not in the most honest way possible. Its greatest charm is found in the rich array of eccentric characters and the charmingly provincial French countryside.
Dr Knock opens on August 2nd at Palace Nova Cinemas .
Check out the official site here.