The Country Doctor

The Country Doctor

(Médecin de Campagne)
(2016)

Comedic French drama set in a countryside community where the people's reliable doctor, Jean-Pierre (François Cluzet), falls ill. Nathalie (Marianne Denicourt), a young hospital doctor, fills his place while also aiding Jean-Pierre, forcing her to prove that she can replace a man deemed irreplaceable.

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Flicks Review

French doctor-turned-director Thomas Lilti co-scripts and directs The Country Doctor, a tale also known as Irreplaceable. Apt, as titular medic Jeanne-Pierre (played by François Cluzet) can’t get to grips with the thought of being replaced. Facing illness, he’s forced to take on Nathalie (Marianne Denicourt), an inexperienced apprentice. Both are middle-aged, but Nathalie is fresh out of medical school; a late start that riles Jeanne-Pierre, who treats his would-be replacement with world-weary disdain.... More

The acting is subtle and understated, in a film steeped in the show-don’t-tell methodology of the best visual storytelling. Characters are roundly drawn, and the conflicts on which the drama rests are always relatable, often amusing and sometimes tragic. Jeanne-Pierre has been told he must cut back on his work in his rural, community practice, if he is to survive his illness, yet it is into his work he plunges to avoid confronting his mortality.

It’s a slow, thoughtful study in humanity, and the banality of the extraordinary in the everyday, let down by a third act that feels contrived. It’s as if the filmmakers avoided movie clichés and pitfalls, only to feel the need to deliver an ending neatly wrapped in a neat dramatic bow. Tidy resolution aside, this is a gentle, restrained film, featuring a superb score, directed and acted with assured passion, and shot with an eye for the French landscape and the subtle, tell-tell signs of real faces hiding real emotions.Hide


The Peoples' Reviews

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BY cinemusefilm superstar

To urban eyes, the rural doctor stereotype is a walking museum of what village medicine used to look like in bygone days. French filmmakers excel in portraying this endangered species and they have done so yet again in the delightful character-rich film The Country Doctor (2016) (Médecin de campagne). To enhance our sense of the fading rural life, the story is framed around a doctor whose own time is fading as the irreplaceable linchpin of his village community.

Made by medic-turned-director... More Thomas Lilti, the plot is best described as a series of insightful vignettes of rural medicine practised the old-fashioned way. The greatly admired Dr Jean-Pierre (François Cluzet) has been caring for the village most of his life and now learns that he has a life-threatening tumour. Ordered to slow down for treatment, medical authorities send an assistant doctor, Nathalie Delezia (Marianne Denicourt) who quickly proves unnervingly competent and willing to lighten his load. Predictably, Jean-Pierre does not take well to losing his role as sole-carer for the village and mischievously makes things difficult for her. He sends her into farms and homes with known annoyances to discourage her from staying, but when she proves her worth in medical emergencies he is forced to accept her help. As his prognosis worsens, the growing respect between them becomes noticeably warmer as they both confront an uncertain future.

In many respects, this story is a predictable cluster of clichés made attractive by a picturesque rural setting captured perfectly with camerawork sympathetic to its natural beauty. Like in many countries, a rural doctor’s life is a public script of farmyard and roadside accidents, comforting home visits, and a surgery full of patiently waiting regulars with ailments both serious and small. The village community adores their doctor and the doctor in turn is a caring father to all. But this is a film where the simple plot and its constructions are less important than its characterisations. François Cluzet is France’s version of Dustin Hoffman, an actor who radiates open warmth, compassion and understanding. His almost musical face can express emotion with a single note consisting of a slight raising of an eyelid, or a wry turn of a lip that hints of a smile, or a faintly furrowed brow that speaks concern. Marianne Denicourt is perfectly cast as the late blooming nurse turned doctor, whose big eyes converse at first hesitantly then warmly with the reluctant senior medic. While the plot may be clichéd, their relationship has none of the conventional hallmarks of romance. Indeed, it is only in the final minutes that we sense their comfort in one another’s presence.

This is a fine example of classic French romantic drama. It is totally driven by characterisation that is earthy, understated and open-hearted with a rich rural aesthetic that evokes the mutual dependencies that are typical amongst country people. It speaks of the unstated and unseen organic wholeness of community that is rare in urban life. It is also a film where most viewers leave with an unmistakable smile.Hide


BY freshdude superstar

The title says it all: the real hero of the film is the job itself.
Night and days, even on Sundays, the country doctor is so much more than just a doctor. This movie perfectly describes this particular relationship to a community: a mixture of devotion, compassion and authority.
Francois Cluzet is once again excellent as the main character, and so is Marianne Denicourt as his potential replacement.
The film is directed by Thomas Lilti, a former GP himself, hence the realism of the film.


The Press Reviews

  • Persuasively played by fine leads and a well-cast ensemble, this thoughtful treatise captures provincial life and the medical mindset with authenticity and tact. Full Review

  • Not groundbreaking work, this, but watchable. Full Review

  • Lilti's drama skirts away from romcom clichés to deliver an affectionate and deeply moving portrait of two people attempting to do right in very different ways. Full Review

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