Wednesday, October 13, 2010


In terms of moviegoing disappointments, the bad Thursday night film has a special place. New movies open on Friday, so Thursday is the last night when stuff that's not performing runs before it gets broken down, packed into rusty cans, and sent back to the place it came from (or to a local second-run house, but if it's going there, seeing it now isn't quite so urgent). When I worked in a theater, the projectionist loved when that last show didn't sell a single ticket - it's always good to get the breakdowns done at a reasonable hour.

But, I digress. If you find yourself missing movies or procrastinating on seeing them like I have over the last few weeks (there have been some long afternoons at work and things pulling me elsewhere on the weekends), Thursday night is the last chance to see something that may have interested you a little before it's gone. Although you can sometimes get a good idea of which ones will be on their way out on Monday or Tuesday by which ones are playing split screens or early information on the theater website or ticket site, Thursday is the brief window where now-or-never kicks in (Wednesday, of course, is new comics day, and I generally give movies a pass in favor of hanging out at the Million Year Picnic with the other regulars).

Of course, the thing is, you can only choose one, maybe two if you're feeling ambitious, and the one I choose is often influenced by when I can get to the theater from work in Waltham (both in terms of "can I make it in time?" and "will I have to wait an hour?"). So sometimes I wind up seeing Heartbreakers, a pretty bad movie. Not bad enough that I don't think it can get better while watching it, so the little recriminations about how I wound up missing Jack Goes Boating and having to do something screwy and expensive to see Buried tonight didn't come until after the credits started rolling.

L'arnacoeur (Heartbreaker)

* * (out of four)
Seen 7 October 2010 at Landmark Kendall Square #7 (first-run)

Making a good romantic comedy seems easy enough, in theory: Come up with some witty banter, figure out what makes the people delivering it interesting and likable, add a reason that they aren't kissing by the end of the first act, and fill in the rest until you've got a hundred double-spaced pages. Then you just have to find some charming, nice-looking actors and you're good to go. It's so simple that you have to wonder why the people making Heartbreaker (L'arnacoeur in the original French) jumped straight to step three.

The heartbreaker of the title is Alex Lippi (Romain Duris), a handsome young man who, along with his sister Melanie (Julie Ferrier) and her husband Marc (François Damiens), operates an unusual business: Family and friends of women in bad relationships hire them to break the couple up, with Melanie and Marc creating a convincing background for Alex. He never sleeps with the women he seduces, and they never take the case of women who are truly in love. Until now, maybe - Juliette Van Der Becq (Vanessa Paradis) is set to marry Jonathan Alcott (Andrew Lincoln) in ten days time. He's nice but bland. Her father (Jacques Frantz) wants him gone, but if it weren't for the group's massive debts, they wouldn't go near the job - and that's before Sophie (Helena Noguerra), a mysterious friend of the bride-to-be who didn't show up their research, shows up. Or Alex starts to like her himself.

Most comedies, romantic or otherwise, have an unlikely situation or two used to somewhere in their script, even somewhere central; it's how you get screwy situations that (hopefully) later translate into comedy gold. The trick is to make these moments seem reasonable, and that's something director Pascal Chaumeil and writers Laurent Zeitoun, Jeremy Doner, and Yohan Gromb rather fail to do. Why, for instance, do Alex and company not know that their debts are, in a roundabout way, owed to their client? Keeping this secret doesn't add more than a couple mediocre jokes, and needlessly confuses the audience. Similarly, Melanie gripes about how the cupboard is bare right before they, without an advance, take a job in Monte Carlo that will require some resources to run. Why make the point about how this stuff is expensive and tricky if you're not actually going to play on how the whole thing could easily fall apart?

Full review at EFC.


@ShikhaRaturi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
@ShikhaRaturi said...

hey liked your review on this one... I really wanted to watch this movie, now i would have to think twice.
hey even i am maintaining a movie blog and would love you to look at it and give your expert comments.