Saturday, September 11, 2010

Heartbreaker (FRENCH)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Romeo Sets to Ruin Relationships in Hilarious French Farce

French heiress Juliette Van Der Becq (Vanessa Paradis) is engaged to be married in ten days to Jonathan Alcott (Andrew Lincoln), a proper British gent who’s rich in his own right. The two are madly in love with each other, and the only thing wrong this picture is that the bride-to-be’s intermeddling father (Jacques Frantz) isn’t happy with his daughter’s choice of a spouse.

For this reason, he has decided to retain the services of Alex (Romain Duris), a dashing Don Juan who specializes in ruining relationships of women involved with jerks and losers, simply by turning on his irresistible powers of seduction. Strategically assisted by a mood-setting, impossible mission team comprised of his sister, Melanie (Julie Ferrier), and his brother-in-law, Marc (Francois Damiens), he’s yet to leave a customer unsatisfied since going into business a decade ago.

Despite his morally questionable line of work, Alex still has a code of honor he abides by, and that includes not sleeping with or falling for any of his targets. He also usually won’t even take a job unless the female is already having second thoughts, but he lets Juliette’s case be an exception to this last rule because he is low on funds and heavily indebted to a mobster impatient for his money.

So, he accepts the lucrative assignment which involves traveling from France to a luxurious, seaside resort on Monaco, where the object of his affection is busy putting last-minute touches on her planned nuptials. To make it easy to ingratiate himself with Juliette, he poses as a bodyguard hired by her dad.

This is the intriguing premise of Heartbreaker, a screwball comedy marking the feature film debut of Pascal Chaumeil. FYI, this delightful little film holds up well in comparison to the best of the romantic romp genre for which the French are famous for. It’s not long before Alex discovers that he’s met his match in more ways than one, as Juliette figures out that he’s been put up to the charade by her father. Worse, Alex finds himself developing feelings for her, against his better judgment.

Will an engaged couple perfect for each other belatedly be broken up? How will overprotective Mr. Van Der Becq take the news that his employee wants to date daddy’s little girl. Then there’s the question of how the jilted fiancĂ© will react to being left at the altar? And then there’s Alex’s partners in crime who might take kindly to losing their charming co-conspirator.

A lighthearted sitcom with enough slapstick and sheer silliness to generate laughs galore for the duration.

Excellent (4 stars)
In French, English, Japanese, Spanish, Arabic and Mandarin with subtitles.
Running time: 104 Minutes
Studio: IFC Films

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