×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Heartbreaker

A well-crafted romantic comedy that reps a happy marriage between love and laughter.

With:
With: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, Francois Damiens, Helena Noguerra, Andrew Lincoln, Jacques Frantz, Amandine Dewasmes, Jean-Yves Lafesse, Jean-Marie Paris.

A well-crafted romantic comedy that reps a happy marriage between love and laughter, “Heartbreaker” is a step above commercial Gallic comedies and a step closer to Hollywood fare of yesteryear. Combining the glamour of “To Catch a Thief” with the ruckus of a Ben Stiller movie, TV vet Pascal Chaumeil’s French Riviera-set intrigue stars Romain Duris as a professional “couples splitter” whose latest target — a stunning and stubborn bride (Vanessa Paradis) — proves to be an Achilles’ heel dressed in Louboutin stilettos. This Universal France release opened strong mid-March, and should break more hearts when it’s eventually remade Stateside.

Already sold in U.K., Spain, Italy, and Canada, with U.S. remake rights nabbed by Universal, this second French-language co-production (following Joann Sfar’s “Gainsbourg”) from Focus Features Intl. seems, likes its protag, to have already accomplished its mission of seduction.

Smartly using their E9 million ($12 million) shooting budget, slick locations and numerous references to American pop culture, helmer Chaumeil and scribes Laurent Zeitoun (“I Do”), Jeremy Doner (“Damages”) and Yoann Gromb have managed to create a high-octane romance de luxe scenario that recalls classic Cote d’Azur pics like the Hitchcock caper and Lubitsch’s “Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife.”

Morocco-set prologue — in which professional seducer Alex (Duris) fools a lovestruck vacationer (Amandine Dewasmes) into thinking he’s a rugged Doctors Without Borders humanitarian — cleverly plays on the victim’s and the audience’s assumptions of what constitutes a perfect guy. Not only is Alex good-looking and charismatic, but he’s also capable of being overtly sentimental, tearing up as he painfully recalls a childhood that never existed.

Along with his prankster sis, Melanie (Julie Ferrier), and her goofball husband, Marc (Francois Damiens), Alex has made a killing stealing clueless girlfriends away from guys who pay him to do the dirty work rather than dump them directly. But recently, business has been difficult, and a mountain of debts forces the team to take on their most difficult assignment: Stop the upcoming marriage of Juliette (Paradis) and Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln), two beautiful millionaires who actually seem to be in love.

Posing as Juliette’s bodyguard when she lands in Monaco to prep the festivities, Alex attempts to impress her with his skills but winds up embarrassing himself time and again. Duris, a highly versatile actor capable of both wrenching physicality (“Persecution,” “The Beat That My Heart Skipped”) and screwball shenanigans (“Russian Dolls”), masterfully reveals his character’s shifting personalities as he searches for the one that will win Juliette over. When it turns out the secret lies partly in her love of “Dirty Dancing,” the actor’s imitation of the late Patrick Swayze’s dance moves is both hilarious and impressively adept.

Known primarily in France as a successful ’80s pop singer and erstwhile actress (and in the U.S. as Johnny Depp’s longtime girlfriend), Paradis gives Juliette an elegance that surpasses the spoiled-brat persona one would expect to find here. Beyond the shopping bags and five-star hotels, her quest for something original and spontaneous is what brings her closer to Alex, and rather than a class-based love story, the film becomes a contest of free spirits vs. predictability.

An experienced TV helmer and former second-unit director for Luc Besson, Chaumeil keeps the action brisk and entertaining, while allowing the two protags enough breathing room to let their romance develop believably over time. Luscious widescreen vistas by Besson regular Thierry Arbogast make the Monaco settings as attractive as they surely are in real life, while Klaus Badelt’s score is a bit too tuned up in almost every scene.

French title is a play on words that literally translates as “Heart Scammer.”

Popular on Variety

Heartbreaker

France-U.K.

Production: A Universal Pictures Intl. France (in France) release of a Quad Films, Script Associes (France)/Focus Features Intl. (U.K.)/Chaocorp (France) production, in association with Cinemage 4, A Plus Image, Banque Populaire Images, with participation of Orange Cinema Series. (International sales: Kinology, Paris.) Produced by Nicolas Duval Adassovksy, Yann Zenou, Laurent Zeitoun. Directed by Pascal Chaumeil. Screenplay, Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner, Yoann Gromb.

Crew: Camera (color, Panavision widescreen), Thierry Arbogast; editor, Dorian Rigal-Ansous; music, Klaus Badelt; production designer, Herve Gallet; costume designers, Laetitia Bouix, Sophie Bay-Baudens; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS Digital), Pascal Armant, Eric Tisserand, Jean-Alexandre Villemer; assistant director, Frederic Drouilhat; casting, Tatiana Vialle. Reviewed at UGC Cine Cite Les Halles 10, Paris, March 18, 2010. (In Tribeca Film Festival -- Showcase; Hong Kong Filmart.) Running time: 104 MIN.

Cast: With: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis, Julie Ferrier, Francois Damiens, Helena Noguerra, Andrew Lincoln, Jacques Frantz, Amandine Dewasmes, Jean-Yves Lafesse, Jean-Marie Paris.

More Scene

  • Julie Andrews

    Julie Andrews Recalls Husband Blake Edwards' Battle With Depression

    The line to see Julie Andrews at the 92Y wrapped around the square of a sprawling New York City block. Seventy years since the start of her career, 60 since she asked “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly?” as Lerner and Loewe’s first Eliza and 50 since she sang “The Sound of Music” before the Eastern Alps [...]

  • Bombshell Charlize Theron Megyn Kelly

    'Bombshell': Why Charlize Theron Was Terrified of Playing Megyn Kelly

    Charlize Theron is getting some of the best buzz of her career for channeling Megyn Kelly in “Bombshell,” but the Oscar-winning actress admits she almost turned down the role. “I was shit scared,” Theron said during a question-and-answer session following a Manhattan screening of “Bombshell” on Sunday. Partly, she was worried about portraying someone who [...]

  • Natalie Portman Benjamin Millipied LA Dance

    Natalie Portman, Benjamin Millepied Help Raise Over $1 Million For L.A. Dance Project

    Natalie Portman may be joining Chris Hemsworth in Marvel’s “Thor 4: Love and Thunder,” but as the petite, Dior-clad actress struck a range of poses on the carpet inside downtown Los Angeles gallery space Hauser, Wirth & Schimmel on Saturday night, it was impossible to imagine her wielding an enormous hammer. But then, the Oscar [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Hailee Steinfeld Dickinson Premiere

    Hailee Steinfeld, Jane Krakowski on What Modern Women Can Learn From Emily Dickinson

    Emily Dickinson lived in the 1800s, but if you ask the team behind Apple TV Plus’ upcoming series, “Dickinson,” her story is more current than ever. Hailee Steinfeld stars in the the modern-day retelling of the poet’s young life. The actress — who makes her first full-time foray into television with the role and also [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content