A French romantic comedy about a brother and sister that run a business designed to break up relationships. Opens tomorrow (Thursday) nationwide. See here for movie times and watch the trailer.
American romantic comedies have become as bland and boring as wine biscuits. Throw in a Kate Hudson and an Ashton Kutcher, set to mediocre and half-bake for 90 minutes. French romantic comedy, on the other hand, at least in the case of the uncharacteristically mainstream Heartbreaker, is more like a plate of macarons: it’s sugary, sure, and you know what you’re going to get, but it’s so indefatigably French it doesn’t matter. Even the formulaic makes for a stylish guilty pleasure here.
It certainly helps that the film rests on the charms of Romain Duris, one of France’s best-known actors, who is just as happy to send himself up as play the seductive cad. As Alex, the scruffy heartbreaker set to win the heart of Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), his performance as a dufus capable of transforming himself into a rogue helps to distract from the fact he has such a gimmicky job; he’s aided by his amusing accomplices (Julie Ferrier and François Damiens as a married couple committed to maintaining their own romance). Paradis is a cold, blank, beautiful slate, doing exactly as is expected of her as Duris chases after her against the romantic setting of Monte Carlo, in glamorous hotels, cars and, well, pizza joints.
The nature of Alex’s pursuit may be questionable – the film strains to find much wrong with Juliette’s fiancée – but there are plenty of laughs to be had, his scams paving the way for plenty of fast-paced physical comedy, 80s music and goofy homages to Dirty Dancing. This is fun, frothy screwball stuff that won’t demand much more cerebral participation than reading the subtitles. But, like Duris, it should charm your pants off.