Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker is slick and modestly enjoyable. The comedy is a little broad and the drama a bit unearned, and the whole film rests rather uneasily on the questionable charisma of its two leads, Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. If those two don’t happen to blow up your skirt, you might be left wondering what all the fuss is about. We can compare Heartbreaker...read more

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Reviewed by Josh Ralske
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Heartbreaker is slick and modestly enjoyable. The comedy is a little broad and the drama a bit unearned, and the whole film rests rather uneasily on the questionable charisma of its two leads, Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. If those two don’t happen to blow up your skirt, you might be left wondering what all the fuss is about. We can compare Heartbreaker favorably to the typical Hollywood romantic comedy (particularly anything starring Gerard Butler, Jennifer Aniston, or some ungodly combination of the two), but that’s holding it to a pretty low standard.

The high-concept plot introduces us to Alex (Duris), who makes his living breaking up relationships. He’s hired by the friends and family members of women who are involved with men who -- for whatever reason -- are not right for them. As shown in the opening sequence (and explained via narration), Alex doesn’t seduce these women; he merely gives them a glimpse of what they are missing. (And apparently, none of them is interested in a man who is clean-shaven.) However, when he and his eccentric team -- sister Melanie (Julie Ferrier of Micmacs), the practical one, and brother-in-law Marc (Francois Damiens), the goofball tech expert who wants to be more involved on the creative end -- are hired to break up the impending Monaco wedding of Juliette (Paradis), a levelheaded wine expert, their operation hits a snag. Not only does her fiance seem a perfect gentleman, but the levelheaded Juliette is extremely resistant to Alex’s roguish charm. Complicating matters further, Alex begins to develop genuine feelings for Juliette.

So, all the elements are in place for a traditional romantic comedy. There’s the overly confident, mercenary male lead who finds himself emotionally involved in his job, which involves deceiving the uptight, independent female lead and winning her away from her seemingly perfect beau. There’s a gorgeous setting. There’s comic relief from Ferrier and Damiens, and from Helena Noguerra as Sophie, Juliette’s oversexed party-girl friend. Well, at least it’s supposed to be funny when Marc knocks poor, oblivious Sophie unconscious several times to get her out of the way of the team’s schemes, at one point telling her upon awakening that he’s had his way with her. (Yes, the French continue to insist that, given the right circumstances, rape can be hilarious.)

What’s missing is some reasonable explanation as to why Alex and Juliette would or even should fall for each other. Alex’s business strategy -- pretending to like everything Juliette likes (George Michael, Dirty Dancing, and Roquefort for breakfast) -- isn’t particularly brilliant, and it’s hard to imagine such a tactic working on an emotionally mature woman. Alex’s attraction to the rather dull Juliette, meanwhile, seems rooted in her resistance to his purported charms, but the movie never acknowledges that the “thrill of the hunt” doesn’t offer much promise of developing into a satisfying long-term relationship. Perhaps in the sequel, someone will hire another “heartbreaker” to woo Juliette away from Alex.

How will Hollywood remake Heartbreaker when the film, with its cheesy pop-culture references, already pretty much plays like a Hollywood remake of itself? Which is to say, aided by those overly obvious cultural touchstones, Heartbreaker is slick, shallow, and light as a feather. It has some style, and it essentially does what it’s supposed to do. But it doesn’t offer any genuine insight into romantic relationships, and those who don’t find the two leads innately appealing might be left scratching their heads.

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  • Released: 2010
  • Review: Heartbreaker is slick and modestly enjoyable. The comedy is a little broad and the drama a bit unearned, and the whole film rests rather uneasily on the questionable charisma of its two leads, Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. If those two don’t happen to… (more)

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