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Heartbreaker aka L’Arnacoeur (6/10)

Run time 104 minutes

OK for children.

In this French farce, Alex Lippi (Romain Duris) has a job. That job is to break up couples. But he has one rule; he will only break up a couple if the woman is unhappy. Alas, he breaks that rule when he accepts the assignment from Juliette’s father to break up the pending marriage of Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), a 30-year-old gorgeous, athletic, brilliant woman who is scheduled to marry Jonathan (Andrew Lincoln), a nice, rich guy with no faults.

Ably directed by Pascal Chaumeil, the film has locations in the South of France that are more romantic than the movie, and Chaumeil makes the best use of them. However, beautiful as the scenery is, it takes a deep back seat to the beauty of Paradis. When she’s on screen, the scenery seems to disappear.

Alex is joined in his job by his sister, Mélanie (Julie Ferrier) and brother-in-law, Marc (François Damiens), a simple, honest, and kind guy who yearns to be the ladykiller Alex is. Mélanie describes Alex’s job by saying that he never sleeps with his targets. “We open their eyes, not their legs.”

The story is a bit convoluted. Alex apparently owes money to someone and there are two guys who are in the background providing a threat to him. I never got it really straight why Juliette’s father wanted to break them up and who the two bad guys were and for whom they were working. I asked the people who sat next to me after the movie ended about what exactly was going on and neither of them understood it perfectly, either, and one of them was French, so could understand the dialogue.

As to that, the subtitles were inferior, often blending in with the background, which made understanding even more difficult. Lessening the impact was the music (Klaus Badelt). A farce depends mightily on the music to frame the action and this score isn’t up to the task.

While it’s relatively entertaining, I’ve seen better. In French.