Review by Jack Foley
FROM its mischievous premise to its breezy execution, French hit Heartless is a brilliant romantic comedy that has plenty to appeal to both sexes.
Directed by Pascal Chaumeil and featuring Vanessa Paradis and Romain Duris, it represents a consistently inventive spin on a well-worn genre that marks as big a success as last year’s (500) Days of Summer. Little wonder, then, that an English language remake is already being planned!
The film follows Alex (The Beat That My Heart Skipped’s Duris), a professional heartbreaker, who promises to bring an end to any relationship within weeks – but only if the female targets of his endeavours are unknowingly unhappy.
When he’s hired to prevent the beautiful Juliette (Paradis) from marrying the man of her dreams (Andrew Lincoln), he is thrown into an action-filled race against time, taking him through the sun-drenched streets of Paris to the fast cars and high fashion of Monaco, during which he unexpectedly falls in love with his mark.
Heartbreaker marks the debut feature from Chaumeil but is such as assured piece of work that you’ll be having too much fun to notice.
The film, quite simply, isn’t interested in following the natural conventions of a romantic comedy, opting instead to throw in elements of heist movies, slapstick comedy and – believe it or not – Dirty Dancing.
Hence, while there’s romance to be found (which is genuinely affecting), there’s also bucket loads of fun in seeing Alex at work, whether it’s establishing his reputation via a brilliantly conceived opening sequence in Morocco, or a dazzling montage of subsequent seductions.
His wooing of Paradis’ Juliette is also highly inventive, too, involving fake identities, The Time of Your Life dance workouts and desperate attempts to stay one step ahead of loan sharks.
Chaumeil keeps things zipping along at a suitably breezy pace, making the most of everything at his disposal, whether that’s cheesy ‘80s music and film references, or the stunning south of France backdrop.
His cast, too, excel… whether it’s Duris’ hopelessly charismatic bad boy charmer, Paradis’ cold but eventually warm-hearted Juliette, or Julie Ferrier and Francois Damiens co-conspirators in the plot to bring an end to Juliette’s relationship.
Damiens, in particular, brings plenty of slapstick charm and energy to the role of Alex’s right-hand man.
Heartbreaker is, hands down, one of the funniest and most consistently charming experiences you’re likely to have in the cinema this year. If there’s a minor criticism, it’s perhaps that it lacks a really killer ending such as the type provided by Up In The Air.
But in all other respects, this is unmissable viewing.
In French, with subtitles
Running time: 105mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: November 22, 2010
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Romain Duris interview
- Heartbreaker Photo Gallery