Review / ‘Dr Knock’ (PG) *** and a half

Omar Sy in the title role of “Dr Knock”.

STARTING in Marseilles with a down-and-out African man fleeing two thugs demanding money, going to sea as a medical officer on a small passenger ship and five years later arriving in a rural village, this is a gentle, warm-hearted parable about a one-time petty thief seeing the light, qualifying as a medico and going about doing good.

If that sequence of stages in the life of Knock (Omar Sy) seems a tad garbled, be patient. I watched it alone so cannot validly conjecture at how others might respond to it, but I’d like to think that the mixture of serious aspects of village life, grassroots humour, moral conflicts, love and personal tragedy that writer/director Lorraine Levy offers deserves consideration. Billed as a comedy, it indeed delivers some gently amusing moments but those are not its main dramatic intention.

It’s a what-goes-around-comes-around story as Knock, after buying the Saint-Maurice practice of Dr Parpalaid, sets out to make the community aware of medical services hitherto unknown. Knock doesn’t wait for patients to come to him. He’s a snake-oil salesman who knows what he’s doing and who knows about what’s going on in the village better than the postman (Christian Hecq). As news of what he’s offering begins to fill his waiting room, it gets right up the nose of Father Lupus (Alex Lutz).

And what about Adèle (Ana Girardot), the pretty young woman from an orphan background who works in Madame La Cuq’s fields and household? She has a bit of a cough. No matter, it’s not serious. And coming from a similar economic and social background to Knock, it’s scarcely surprising that love begins to bloom.

The film’s collection of moments in the lives of its characters offers much more than these few samples. Its narrative has an affectionate feeling. Its mountain scenery is beautiful. And meeting its people – well, most of them – is rather enjoyable.

At Palace Electric

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