Film Review : Heartbreaker
Romain Duris in 'Heartbreaker'
A refreshingly light-hearted and action packed comedy with a twist of romance, ‘Heartbreaker’ , despite the title, is not just another Hollywood rom-com.
For a fee, Alex Lippi (Romain Duris) can cry on cue and charm any woman who is “unknowingly in an unhappy relationship” opening their eyes to the possibilities of “love”. Unknown to these women is that Alex is acting on behalf of their disapproving family and friends. However, Alex doesn’t work alone; his team, made up of a bumbling high-tech expert brother-in-law Marc (François Damiens) and a straight-talking sister Mélanie (Julie Ferrier) help make these women see the error of their choice of boyfriends/fiancés using less than conventional methods and various disguises. To seduce these women out of such relationships, the team are able to use ridiculously elaborate high-tech methods including phone-tapping and CCTV access, technology which would seem more at home in an episode of 24.
We’re first introduced to the team in Morocco where they use fake leaflets for a wet t-shirt contest to distract the boyfriend-in-question while they work their magic on the girlfriend. Throw in an endless desert, teary Alex and some well-placed white flying doves and the woman believes she’s had an epiphany about love. “Thank you”, the collage of women all exclaim to Alex as they realise they deserve nothing but the best. The team work using the means of seduction and their one golden rule is that they will never break up a genuinely happy couple…
Enter Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), an independent and feisty wine connoisseur whose distant relationship with her father Van De Becq (Jacques Frantz) has led him, for no real apparent reason, to disapprove of her union with seemingly perfect Englishman Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln). Despite their best attempts, Alex and his team are unable to rifle any dirt on this happy couple. They even resort to sporting homeless disguises to subtly spy on the pair, only to be met by the charitable Jonathan offering them a doggie-bag filled with expensive food which is what you’d expect from a millionaire founder of a charity that feeds hungry children. Although a mission Alex would have once declined, there’s an added twist. Overwhelmed by an enormous (but unexplained) debt with the mafia, Alex is persuaded to take on the job after a run-in with a brawny loan-shark capable of cracking nuts with his bare teeth.
With a ten day deadline looming before Juliette and Jonathan are set to marry in Monaco, this task isn’t going to be easy especially when you’re dealing with an independent and fiery woman like Juliette who fails to fall for any of Alex’s usual tricks. Interestingly, Juliette is probably the least likeable character in the film but it is her sombreness in contrast with Alex’s goofiness that makes their chemistry work. The dynamic between the two follows predictable linear stages from indifference to reciprocal affection thanks to a few George Michael songs and choreography from Dirty Dancing, two things which act as fire to Juliette’s icy exterior. To add a bit more of a male-friendly angle to this assumed chick-flick, Alex’s past as a boxer comes in handy when he’s posing as Juliette’s bodyguard and accidentally tackles Sophie (Helena Noguerra), an old friend of Juliette’s who we’re introduced to with her breast spilling out of her dress. Although Sophie’s arrival seems disruptive to The Heartbreaker’s plan, especially when she arrives unannounced at Alex’s hotel room clad only in lingerie, she plays an integral part in reminding Juliette of her colourful past, a twist which turns out to be disappointingly lacklustre.
In the grand scheme of things, there are a few clichés in this film and parts of the plot that remain unclear but these are all made up for by the abundance of laugh-out-loud moments which have become a somewhat distant memory in recent rom-com hybrids. The few faults with ‘Heartbreaker’ are easy to forgive in face of its comedic writing, beautiful Monte Carlo setting and great casting, especially Romain Duris’ uproarious performance as Alex or L’arnacoeur (the heartbreaker).
Apart from the predictable ending, there’s actually a refreshing comedy in Pascal Chaumeil’s feature film debut with amusing romantic peaks such as a hilarious rendition of dirty-dancing Swayze style by Alex. It’s French so expect some unnecessary (partial) nudity, one liners such as “we open their eyes, not their legs” and a fast-paced story about the best team in the break-up business. Add in some stun-gun action, Grand Theft Auto and yes, some romance and you’ve got a recipe to keep you entertained throughout the duration of the film.
Release date: July 2
Running time: 105 minutes