Monday, March 9, 2015

MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Heartbreaker


For this week's top pick, I'm gonna lighten the mood a little with a good ol' romantic comedy. The film is 2010's "Heartbreaker", directed by Pascal Chaumeil. It stars Romain Duris in the title role as a man who breaks up unfavourable relationships for a living.

The premise of "Heartbreaker" is fairly simple. Alex (Romain Duris), his sister Melanie (Julie Ferrier) and his brother-in-law Marc (Francois Damiens) own a business that caters to persons who wish to break up relationships in which the woman is too blind to see the mismatch. To accomplish this, they use Alex to seduce the women, before offering up a teary-eyed goodbye and claiming that it's too late for him to find love. This is the same method they've attempted for their latest client, a gangster who is trying to stop the impending marriage of his daughter Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) to a wealthy Englishman. It turns out to be a difficult task though, as the couple seem very happy. At his wit's end, Alex decides to get up close and personal with Juliette, inserting himself into her life as a bodyguard. As he gets to know her however, he finds that he may be developing genuine romantic feelings of his own.

Fully embracing the cliches of its genre, "Heartbreaker" has an unabashed energy that plays a huge part in its appeal. Its concept is a playground for the considerable comic gifts of Romain Duris. With his slender frame and bright smile, he slinks in and out of these women's lives like a fleeting dream. There's something fundamentally devious about Alex's manipulative behaviour, but Duris' performance gives him an irresistible appeal. As he gradually falls in love in with Juliette, his vulnerability is equally compelling.

Really, the film depends almost entirely on the charisma of its central actor (it's a rather lazy script otherwise), but he's also well-supported by a fun cast. Ferrier, Damiens and Helena Noguerra (as Juliette's friend Sophie) make for a trio of colorful supporting players who get some very amusing scenes. As Alex's love interest, Paradis also has a certain je ne sais quoi.

It may not have anything new to say about love and relationships, but "Heartbreaker" is worth it for its affable cast and its jovial spirit. You may roll your eyes at times, but no romantic comedy is without its contrivances and at least this one is French. When it comes to romance and offbeat humour, you could do much worse.

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