DIR: Pascal Chaumeil • WRI: Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner, Yohan Gromb • PRO: Nicolas Duval-Adassovsky, Laurent Zeitoun • DOP: Thierry Arbogast • ED: Dorian Rigal-Ansous • DES: Hervé Gallet • CAST: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, Andrew Lincoln
When I first read the plot summary of Heartbreaker I was pretty sure I was going to despise it. It’s about a trio of confidence tricksters, Alex (Roman Duris), his sister (Julie Ferrier), and her husband (Francois Damiens), who set up elaborate schemes to get couples to break up, for a fee, by sending the supposedly irresistible Duris to seduce the unsuspecting females.
They didn’t exactly sound like the sort of people I’d enjoy spending 105 minutes of my time with. But when the film made it clear, as it is at some pains to do, that they are only hired by concerned third parties who think the couple is secretly unhappy, I started wondering if they had an ad in the Yellow Pages. They’re a principled bunch: they’ll never split up a happy couple and Alex will never sleep with the girls he seduces. But financial troubles force our heroes to abandon their principles and they accept a huge commission to stop the daughter (Vanessa Paradis) of a shady businessman from marrying the man of her dreams.
By this time I actually thought I might enjoy Heartbreaker. The trio’s modus operandi is to create their own real life rom-coms to woo their targets, so I settled down for some knowing stabs at the clichés of the genre – a wide target I’ll admit. But any hopes for irony or even originality disappear as the film lazily wallows in the very clichés it seemed to think it was above. The fact that this daughter is beautiful, rich and …ugh… ‘free-spirited’ really should have warned me. All we get instead is Duris flouncing about his fancy hotel room in Monaco while Bondish guitar chords twang away in the background.
This film is desperately in love with itself, which I guess is fitting, but that doesn’t make it any less infuriating. And maybe it’s me, but I couldn’t quite get behind the idea that Duris is irresistible to women, mostly because whenever he was supposed to be seducing a girl he looked like he was about to punch her in the throat.
So when the affectionate spoof I was hoping for disappeared into the distance I just sat there waiting for a decent joke. Then I started waiting for any joke at all – for the purposes of this review I’m not counting mirthless gurning as a joke and I suspect my opinion here differs from that of the filmmakers. Then, for a laugh, I wondered if there was any fun to be had with the film’s gender politics, which I doubt would stand up to much examination, but then the film ended and I was too bored to care. About anything.
Heartbreaker – Official Website