Re:View – ‘Heartbreaker’
French comedies have a very different internal logic to their American counterparts. There’s the same mix of frivolity and cold-eyed ambition when it comes to landing the right man, but the French confections seem less sentimental and prepared to touch on the financial downside of making a mistake. ‘Priceless’ (‘Hors De Prix’) was extremely cynical about the mutual uses of love, but ‘Heartbreaker’ (‘L’Arnacoeur’) is an altogether fluffier confection.
The premise is absurd, and makes sure you know that the filmmakers are aware of it. Romain Duris (looking handsome but suddenly tiny here) works in a kind of Mission Impossible team, employed to break girls’ hearts for their own good (at one point filling an entire fake village to fool his target). Hired by their loved ones to make them see the error of their choices, Duris remains untouched by the women who fall for him until he meets his match in spoilt rich girl Vanessa Paradis.
A zippy first twenty minutes can’t sustain the mood, but there’s a playful tone (including a Dirty Dancing set-piece) that calls out for a US remake, and the film unspools in the ‘Golden Triangle’ between Monte Carlo and Nice, my old stamping ground, never prettier and more absurdly tourist-free than here. Duris is a versatile physical actor, Paradis gives as good as she gets and there’s good support from two married best friends who are in on the scam, although if you start to worry about how Duris manages to run from Nice to Eze village (a half-hour drive) in a few minutes, you’re missing the point of such fables.