David Boutin plays plastic surgeon Christopher Lewis, who is recruited by townsfolk in tiny fishing village near Quebec to stay as their doctor.

Plotwise, the most obvious comparison to "Seducing Doctor Lewis" is "Northern Exposure," the delightful 1990-95 television series.

However, the low-key, offbeat comic sensibilities of "Seducing Doctor Lewis," a French-Canadian import, are more in line with such British comedies as "Waking Ned Devine" and "Local Hero."

That probably makes the film sound derivative, which it really isn't. Even if it were, though, it's so full of life and character that you can't help but enjoy it.

The setting is Ste. Marie-La Mauderne, a tiny fishing village near Quebec, where the industry dried up — so to speak — about a decade earlier.

Ste. Marie's proud residents have been collecting welfare, but they're not happy about it. Fortunately, there's reason for optimism — a company is interested in building a factory nearby.

However, there are certain concessions that must be made, not the least of which is attracting a doctor to live or at least work in town (something to do with insurance concerns, and about protecting the health of prospective workers).

The doctor the town sets its sights on is Christopher Lewis (David Boutin), a plastic surgeon from Montreal, who was stopped there for speeding. So the duplicitous new mayor, Germain (Raymond Bouchard), convinces the other residents to pretend to be interested in the same things as the reluctant physician — including cricket. They even stage a game, despite the fact that none of them know how to play.

Admittedly, the premise is a little mean-spirited. But Boutin's character is not necessarily the most sympathetic guy — at least not when we first meet him. And since director Jean-Francois Pouliot's pacing is never rushed, the subsequent character progressions and changes feel quite believable.

Of course, there's still a lot riding on the cast, and fortunately they're all up to the task. Veteran Canadian character actor Bouchard is probably the best, making a character that could have come off as unlikable surprisingly endearing.

"Seducing Doctor Lewis" is not rated but would probably receive a PG-13 for scattered use of strong profanity and some vulgar slang terms, simulated sex (done rather inventively for laughs), brief drug use (cocaine) and a brief scene of violence. Running time: 108 minutes.

E-MAIL: jeff@desnews.com