My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Published July 25th 2018
Is there a conman in the house?
Dr Knock is coming soon to cinemas
If you've never been to a foreign movie before, now is the perfect time to give one a try. Dr Knock opens in cinemas on August 2nd and it's sure to charm audiences Australia-wide.
The story is based on a satirical play from 1923 that is much-loved in France but not terribly well-known here. The original is called Knock ou le Triomphe de la médecine and it's by a playwright called Jules Romains. Now, Director Lorraine Lévy has created a new spin on the old story, changing the era in which it is set and changing the age and race of the doctor from elderly white man to a more youthful man of colour.
The doctor at dinner
The movie's representative in Australia told Weekend Notes, "This time, set in country 1950s France, Dr. Knock (Omar Sy) is a former conman-turned-GP who arrives in the sleepy village of St-Maurice with a plan to make himself rich: persuade healthy people they are ill and simply don't realise it."
Omar Sy is fabulous as the conman doctor. He does a great job of endearing his sometimes morally questionable character to the viewer. He's real, flawed but also with many redeeming qualities. In fact, all of the actors are so real, so believable and nuanced, it's easy to forget you're watching a fiction unfold.
The storyline's subtext is rich with concepts that are very relevant to modern viewers. The relationship between capitalism and the medical community is brought sharply into focus. The doctor's over-prescription of products from the local pharmacy and his own fees have a flow-on effect through the community's economy. He is selective in his marks, charging more to the rich and giving free services to the poor – even funding the treatment for the beautiful Adèle (Ana Girardot), with whom he's fallen in love.
Then there's the subtext of his strained relationship with the church. The hysterical priest tries in vain to bring down the doctor and undermine his close relationship with the citizens of the town. Ultimately science and medicine triumphs over religion in this movie.
Dr Knock Trailer
There's a lot of fun and humour throughout the story and that unique French skill for superb slapstick. The characters are quirky and interesting. The story is well paced for those who don't need a wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am non-stop-action-packed plot. The cinematography is strikingly beautiful. There are several scenes that are framed like works of art; like Norman Rockwells crossed with renaissance art. Sets and costumes are gorgeous, with a colour scheme that all sits wonderfully against the landscape. The colour grading is that gorgeous golden tone you often see in the work of Jean-Pierre Jeunet. If you're not into French films, probably the best closest example would be the colours, sets and costuming you find in Wes Anderson movies. It's a feast for the eyes.
The doctor and his love interest Adele
Of course, Dr Knock isn't without its moment of suspense and drama. In fact, it starts very much like a crime thriller. The doctor and his town endure challenges and dark times, but ultimately almost all of the characters the audience wants to see prevail get their happy endings.
Dr Knock runs for 113 beautiful minutes and is rated PG. It's well worth the watch for French film fans and those new to subtitled entertainment. Click the link below to find a cinema that's showing it near you.