Considering how much respect Americans tend to give French cinema, I was surprised at how formulaic and predictable this French romantic comedy comes across. Then I remembered that France was the country that still adored Jerry Lewis long after the rest of the world was so over him, and I felt slightly less surprised, but still a bit disappointed.
The titular “Heartbreaker” here is Alex, a suave Frenchman who makes his living breaking up couples. Yes, people pay him (handsomely) to cause rifts in the relationships they disapprove of. His latest job is to break up the impending marriage between Juliette, a wealthy businessman’s daughter, and her British fiancée. And the wedding is only 10 days away, so he better get to work!
The rest of the movie’s plot is pretty much handed to you on a silver platter in the trailer, though anyone who’s ever seen a romantic comedy at any time in their life can see where it will go. Alex puts his patented moves on Juliette, but she won’t fall for them, so he has to find another route. They eventually bond over cheesy American ‘80s movies and pop music (complete with a car ride sing-along), and Juliette starts to have doubts about her wedding, while Alex starts to see her as more than just another job.
Will Juliette marry the Brit, or will Alex succeed in breaking them up? And how will Alex cope with having real feelings for another person? And will Juliette find out about his job and refuse to believe that he actually cares for her (until some grand gesture made in the eleventh hour)? And which hit of the ‘80s will choreograph the climatic final moment when they inevitably come together? Is it too much to hope for “Rock Me Amadeus”?
I admit that “Heartbreaker” doesn’t look completely awful — it at least looks more entertaining and charming than most American romantic comedies being released these days (though that’s not saying a whole lot). I just wonder if this is a sign that the world has run out of unique ways to tell a love story. Because if anyone could still do it, I would have guessed it would be the French.
Having already played at various foreign and domestic film festivals, “Heartbreaker” will have a limited U.S. release on Sept. 10.
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