A movie can’t open by ogling a bikini-clad beauty to the riffs of “Son of a Preacher Man” and expect anyone to take it seriously. Even if it’s in French. And stars Romain Duris. That is, it’s the soundtrack that’s your first—but not last—clue to Heartbreaker‘s place in the destined-for-TBS canon of romantic comedies. Duris plays Alex, who breaks up couples for a living: he seduces women who don’t realize they’re in unhappy relationships to show them that they are. But then he takes a job that asks him to do the impossible—to take a woman, Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), out of, like, the happiest relationship ever.
Along the way, Heartbreaker hits all the genre’s marks: it defines its characters by their contrived eccentricities (Juliette has memorized the dances from her favorite film, Dirty Dancing—will she and Duris recreate some later?); it sports a quirky supporting cast, including a crass best friend, a slovenly brother-in-law and a bulldoggish Serb; and it even has a taser gag. Quel Américain! Plus de Sarkozy!
Even more American is the movie’s case of Opposites Attract: she’s high class and he’s low; she’s art-house and he’s multiplex. At least there’s a twist—that it’s all a ruse; that Alex’s courtship plot is, knowingly, as contrived as your average screenwriter’s. Still, this ain’t exactly metacinema. Heartbreaker‘s sole virtue is Duris, whose easy charm and sex appeal prove predictably seductive. But, as perhaps the most promising French star of his generation, this Gerard Butler shit is beneath him.
Opens September 10