Romain and Juliette
Whilst watching French movie "Heartbreaker" I found myself thinking who they would cast in it if Hollywood remade it. With a story which sees a French charmer who is hired to seduce women before they make a mistake and marry I could picture George Clooney in the main role with maybe Julianne Moore as his sister and Paul Giamatti as his brother-in-law. And then it struck me, the reason why I found myself doing this is because "Heartbreaker" at its heart is a very familiar story, one which is often used in Hollywood of a person paid to do a job but ending up falling for the person he is only meant to seduce. And whilst the French actors and European location adds something to "Heartbreaker" to make it more enjoyable it is really just an entertaining French take on a Hollywood movie.
Alex (Romain Duris) is a man for hire, a man whose ability to seduce women allows him to earn a living by getting women to realise they are not in love with the men they are about to marry. It is why wealthy florist Van der Beck (Jacques Frantz) hires him and his team, his sister and brother-in-law, to stop his daughter Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) from marrying Englishman Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln). The trouble is that whilst Alex is in desperate need of cash as he has a money lender after him he can't help falling for Juliette.
So at its heart the story to "Heartbreaker" is a familiar one and if you have watched "10 Things I Hate About You" or "Failure to Launch" it is one you will quickly spot. Yes we have Alex the hired Don Juan unexpectedly falling in love with the woman he is being paid to prevent from marrying the wrong man and of course with him masquerading as a body guard so he can be near her the relationship is built on a lie. As such it is fair to say that "Heartbreaker" plays out in a predictable manner as despite Juliette initially disliking him she warms to him and that leads to him being torn between doing his job and what his heart says.
The thing is that whilst the basic idea is a familiar one the dressing up of it is where "heartbreaker" works and the opening montage which allows us to see Alex at work be it masquerading as a Doctor, Gospel singer or even a criminal quickly makes you smile. Throw into the mix Alex's sister and brother-in-law and there is plenty more laughs, in fact "Heartbreaker" is a movie which despite being predictable has you either laughing or smiling in every scene. Well what is not to like when in order to seduce Juliette Alex learns to dance like Swayze and pretends to like Wham.
You can add the European locations to the list of things which makes it work and having it set in Monaco is a nice touch. In fact with this being a French movie with subtitles it forces you to follow them and concentrate which adds something else to the movie. It makes you take in what is being said and really understanding Alex's heartbreak as he falls for Juliette where as in a typical Hollywood movie you wouldn't pay nearly as much attention to the dialogue with it being familiar.
And to continue singing its praises Romain Duris is brilliant as Alex, delivering suave womaniser but also comedy especially when we watch him use his trick of turning on the water works to try and steal a kiss. Every time we see Alex turn away and grimace you know what is coming but it is so over the top that it makes you laugh every time. So does the combination of Julie Ferrier and FranÃ§ois Damiens as his sister and brother-in-law delivering more obvious comedy. The only weakness for me, and it is purely because the rest of the cast is so good is Vanessa Paradis as Juliette because whilst she delivers the look of a rich and independent daughter about to marry the delivery just doesn't feel so natural.
What this all boils down to is that "Heartbreaker" is really just a French version of a Hollywood rom com with its familiar basic storyline and humour. But it works and it seems so much fresher than you normal Hollywood rom-com thanks to the good performances, the fun set up and the simple fact that with it being in French you pay more attention to it than a Hollywood movie.