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Heartbreaker

Year: 2010
Production Co: Quad Productions
Director: Pascal Chaumeil
Writer: Laurent Zeitoun
Cast: Romain Duris, Vanessa Paradis

I'm sure this isn't the first time I've commented on the curious cross-pollination between French and American cinema. The French New Wave took the American intellectual aesthetic of a girl and gun offstage, putting it on the streets in real locations and creating the cinema verite style that then became the default setting in Hollywood.

Now, one of strangest and most culturally disappointing sights you can see on a cinema or DVD screen is a French romantic comedy that looks, feels and behaves exactly like the million colour-by-numbers efforts we get from American studios starring the latest It Girls and Guys.

Even though The Heartbreaker is one, you can turn off your cultural outrage censor and enjoy it if movies like 27 Dresses or Something Borrowed are your taste. There's a very strict modus operandi of establishing a predetermined pattern where relationships are a farce for some cynical character for whatever reason. Then – the reason we're watching this portion of their life rather than any other – he or she will meet someone who's intended to be a victim of the same pattern but instead captures the hero's heart and makes them accept love.

Alex (Duris) is the lothario who sells his services to concerned parents and friends breaking up toxic relationships by pretending to seduce the woman into seeing her freedom in the larger world. His latest mark is the daughter of a wealthy industrialist (Paradis, Mrs Johnny Depp), and he of course falls for her for real against his better judgment.

Like the best American rom-com you know everything that's going to happen two scenes before it does and it has every cornerstone from the comic relief buddy to the final dash across New York/Tuscany/through the rain/into the church to object/etc.

If you want to enjoy it, be forewarned you've seen it a million times before. The one question it didn't answer for me was this: surely Paradis could've used her husband's clout to get something a bit cleverer than this?

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