"Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships. They are hired by a rich man to break up the wedding of his daughter. The only problem is that they only have one week to do so." Reading from this official, marketing department-written synopsis of the movie (also meant as a clever way of not having to delve into plot explanation here) one may well expect something quite frivolous and quite, well...quite Julia Robertsy in Heartbreaker (or perhaps I should say Jennifer Anistony for those whose taste in romantic comedies runs more toward the dime-store set).
Indeed, at first glance, Pascal Chaumeil's French smash hit and apparent international crowd-pleaser could easily seem like any other modern-day rom-com out there, with its silly plot, frantic acting and predictable ending (and one can already see the inevitable Ben Stiller American remake making its equally inevitable inadequate presence known in a year or two), but to blow it off as such, and simply move onto the next film out there, would mean missing what is a (rather surprisingly so this romantic but jadedly so critic must attest to) quite enjoyable movie. In fact one could even go as far as to call it a downright charming movie.
Heartbreaker is one of those films where one can use the descriptive charming, and not seem snarky in the slightest. With its irreverent take on love and romance, its wild, albeit silly, one-upmanship of storytelling and comic pacing, and the one two punch lead performances of the "good girl's bad boy" Romain Duris (the epitome of modern day Gallic savoir faire) and that sweetly sexy widlflower Vanessa Paradis (perhaps leaving significant other Johnny Depp in charge of the kids, the gap-toothed beauty is finally back in front of the camera where she belongs), Heartbreaker has a sort of an old world charm (read: classic cinema) to it that most modern day rom-coms (Ms. Roberts! Ms. Aniston!) just do not have.
Doing what mainstream cinema does best (here or across the pond) but does not do very often, Heartbreaker goes above and beyond mere romantic comedy. Made in a similar vein to those films that Hollywood used to come out with back when names such as Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and Carole Lombard and Clark Gable and Doris Day lit up the marquees, Heartbreaker, with Duris and Paradis playing off each other to such agreeable ends as to think they would be the perfect duo for a French remake of Bringing Up Baby, ends up being a much better film, with a much better fit for all involved (actor and viewer alike) than one would expect at that aforementioned first glance. Much better indeed. [09/21/10]