Doctor-turned-filmmaker Thomas Lilti draws on his own experience working in a Normandy practice for this authentic, engrossing portrait of life as a hard-pressed country doctor. François Cluzet, a leading man who’s more of a character actor, is spot on as hard-working, indefatigable GP Jean-Pierre, whose reserved, unsentimental manner endears him to his patients but hides the fact he’s just been diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumour.
Enter new doctor Nathalie (Marianne Denicourt), who has to win his confidence and make a good impression on the locals, in the process underlining Jean-Pierre’s own sense of dedication and his fears of mortality. This is the stuff of TV soaps, but Lilti’s film eschews hyped-up melodrama for a low key slice-of-life that becomes more powerful as it goes along. Indeed, ‘Irreplaceable’ builds in intensity as we realise the profound humanity and community spirit embodied by everyday heroes like this. Beautifully done by a writer-director who clearly knows his stuff.