Friday, November 11, 2011

Heartbreaker (2010)

At a glance:
This unique French rom-com farce about a con artist who is paid to break up couples is funny, fast-moving, and a joy to watch from start to finish

Our review (with spoilers):
Movies are littered with compassionate con artists whose hearts are in the right place. Just like the hit men with hearts of gold, these types of people probably do not exist in real life. But I’ve got to admit I have a weakness for the sweet con artists in film. And no one could be sweeter than Alex (Romain Duris). Together with his sister and her goofy husband, their job is to use seduction to break up couples.

The film is wonderfully unconventional, and it is important that you stop reading right now if you haven’t seen it. It begins as a young woman leaves her obviously inferior fiancé by the pool. She wants to explore Marrekech and he wants to drink in a lounge chair and ogle women in wet t-shirts. She is driven to the dunes by a young man who provides medical supplies for needy children. The chemistry between them is instantaneous and strong. He doesn’t need to say much to get her to realize that her fiancé is not the right man for her. When they explore the desert dunes together and share a first kiss, this appears to be a romance film. But it ends there. Alex has done his job, and is not in this for love. The fiancé will be dumped; his mission is accomplished.

His next client is a bit more complicated. Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) and Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln) seem like a perfect couple. By masquerading as a hired bodyguard, Alex manages to get close enough to find out her foibles and fears, and in the process, he is surprised to find that he is falling in love.

Heartbreaker feels exotic if you are accustomed to Hollywood fare; Romain Duris’ scraggly beard and sneering but sincere smile are a welcome change from the leading men of Tinseltown. Light, and occasionally hilarious, it contains action, romance, glamour, and a little dirty dancing. When it ended, I felt I could have just started watching it all over again.

Rating:  3 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Manages to be such a pleasant little soufflé of a movie that it's hard not to like it on its own terms."
- Ken Hanke (Mountain Xpress - Asheville, NC)


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