Heartbreaker

aka L’ARNACOEUR
Movie review by Neil Sadler

Starring: Romain Duris, Vanesa Paradis, Julie Ferier, François Damiens
Director: Pascal Chaumeil

HEARTBREAKER should be a Hollywood movie. It feels like a Hollywood rom-com but definitely one of the better ones like PRETTY WOMAN or even WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.

But HEARTBREAKER is a French film and wears its continental charms firmly on its Chanel sleeves. Although much of the music and even some of the jokes and styling are obviously influenced by American film, it is the Gallic character of the film that gives it an edge.

This is the story of Alex (Romain Duris) who, along with his sister and her tech-nerd husband, break up women from their spouses using seduction, subterfuge and a few hi-tec tools. However Alex only takes the job if the women are unhappy. In a break-neck opening sequence, we meet Alex in full seduction mode as he seduces first one and then a series of “unhappy” women and learn what a master of the technique he is as well as how his “job” is more a love than a career and hence he is in debt to the wrong people.

The main plot revolves around his mission to seduce Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) a rich girl with an even richer father who hires Alex to stop her marrying the seemingly perfect husband. This being rom-com land it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a Hollywood hack to realize that Alex begins to fall for his target and his mission is complicated by his own heart.

The script is witty and smart even when it verges on the ridiculous and it makes great use of multiple locations to present a glossy (most of the action takes place in impossibly glamorous Monaco) but believable environment for the romance to unfold.

But much of the reason this film is such a joy is the charisma of its leads. You may have seen Romain Duris in THE BEAT MY HEART SKIPPED – a beautiful but very serious film. Here he gives the kind of endearing performance that made a career for Julia Roberts or Hugh Grant. In fact it was only afterwards I realized it was the same actor from that film.

Vanessa Paradis is rarely seen in films but she proves what an underrated actress she is. Initially cold and calculating, you fall in love with her at about the same moment that Alex does.

There are a few times when the film stretches into farce, a more typical environment for French comedy (or at least the ones we get to see.) Although more laugh out loud at these points, they were less successful than the subtler romantic elements.

It is always difficult when watching a film in a foreign language to know if the jokes translate correctly but when a film leaves you this satisfied, it is hard to complain.

Obviously at some point a Hollywood insider will watch this film and decide to remake it with Zac Efron and Jennifer Aniston or the like and in all likelihood drain all charm and life from it. See it before they do.

5 out of 6 stars

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