It's been a piss-poor year for the romantic comedy, once a staple and reliable genre for Hollywood. 2009's (500) Days of Summer looked set to reinvigorate the genre but 2010 proved that that wonderful film was, sadly, an anomaly.
Thank god for the French. Heartbreaker may not be a great film by any means but it is fun, charming and, yes, romantic. It was a box office success in France and, predictably, Hollywood is already planning a remake. But I'd suggest you see Pascal Chaumeil's film, and not just because the original is always better but because the remake won't star Romain Duris.
Duris is Alex, a man who has managed to channel his considerable Gallic charms into a career as a professional relationship terminator, hired by the friends or family of a loved one whom they believe to be involved with the wrong person. Aided by his sister (Julie Ferrier) and brother-in-law (Francois Damiens), Alex researches each job to learn the best way to up-end the target's relationship. But should the couple prove to be genuinely happy, Alex won't take the job.
All of that changes with the threat of a debt collector, and Alex takes the assignment to break-up Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) and her millionaire, children's-hospital building English fiance (Andrew Lincoln) who seem to be the perfect couple. Alex and his team follow Juliette to Monte Carlo where, posing as a bodyguard hired by her father (who suspects his daughter is not as happy as she seems), he sets in motion operation seduction.
But Juliette, a fan of George Michael and Dirty Dancing, proves a considerable nut to crack, seemingly irresistable to Alex's charm offensive. Not so me; Duris had me at bon jour. Paradis on the other hand, who is perhaps better known outside of France as Mrs Johnny Depp, I found to be lacking in spark or charm. Still, I'll take this film over her hubby's The Tourist (also out this week; review to come) any day.
Like any rom-com, the ending is never in doubt, so at 105 minutes, Heartbreaker is perhaps a tad too long, and at times too farcical for its own good. But there are enough moments to sustain it. I defy anyone not to smile when they hear Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go or positively beam when the inevitable Dirty Dancing set piece finally arrives. Or fall for Romain Duris, for that matter.