|There. Now we can all claw our eyes out together.|
What excuse do fictional people have for being annoying, boring and painful to watch, without any redeeming or even cool/ interesting evil qualities? None, I learnt after watching Heartbreaker. Life may often imitate art, but art must never, ever imitate an MTV reality show.
In Heartbreaker, Romain Duris and his comic relief sidekicks run an agency which breaks up couples where the woman is unhappy and doesn't know it, because everybody knows that only women are capable of being unhappy and not knowing it. Probably caused by the same gene that has to do with not being able to drive and knowing how to make sandwiches. The agency accomplishes this by getting oily haired, toothy and generally dickish Romain to seduce them, thereby helping them realise that they aren't happy at all with faceless boyfriend/husband and that they deserve someone far better because they're all precious and fey snowflakes. There's also some sort of creditor-seeking-repayment-threatening-violence plot line to create tension/make us give a shit about Romain (we don't).
Maybe it's a cultural thing, but I found the very premise of the film most perturbing. I can't count the number of times I've seen a friend with a truly atrocious man and wondered what drug he's feeding her to keep her so blissfully ignorant (to any friends reading this: I totally like your boyfriends/husbands, but in a sisterly way). Then, instead of getting some highly suspect characters to invade her privacy and masturbate to her taking a shower, I've tried the revolutionary approach of sitting down and having a talk with her. If that doesn't work, I give her fellow the benefit of doubt and wish her the very best. From what I understand, this is what most reasonable people do. But in France, apparently it is de rigueur to dismiss your loved ones' intelligence and inflict Big Tooth upon them.
As you may have guessed, Romain falls in love with Vanessa Paradis (aptly called "poor man's Madonna" by a friendly neighbourhood wiseacre) whose engagement he has to break up. After many plot twists and much heartache, they end up together. But herein lies the film-makers' quandary: they cant have a totally evil or utterly boring man as her fiancé, because that would confirm the audience's suspicion that Vanessa is an idiot with bad taste. But he can't be too interesting and an all-round excellent human being either, because she would then have no reason to be unhappy. They solve this problem by not giving her fiancé, Andrew Lincoln too much screen time and by making him REALLY SWEET AND NICE (a method known in the movie circles as Sweet Home Alabama-ing). Oh, and he has snooty, old-money type parents. Surely that's a fatal flaw deserving of a first-class dumping right at the altar without even a hint of remorse?
The film-makers also seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that the ability to get management degrees, converse in Portuguese and Italian and buy nice dresses are all biblical virtues possessed by the speciallest snowflake of them all: Vanessa. What they did not realise is that audience would be able to spot her for the spoilt, entitled and selfish creature she is, in under 5 minutes. What they also did not count on, was Andrew Lincoln coming across as the only bearable character in the film. Hell, her father (who hires Romain) admits that he doesn't have any problem with Andrew, except for the fact that he's too nice, kind and intelligent and somehow that is going to bore the hell out of his daughter. In fact, nobody in the film is ever quite sure as to why Vanessa and her fiancé HAD to be separated. But she is kind of a prick and so is Romain, so I guess her father really did know what was best for her... and that makes it a happy-ish ending? Don't ask me. I was hungry and had stopped caring by then.
But worst of all, this execrable movie then had the immense gall to classify that '80s classic film, Dirty Dancing as a secret guilty pleasure and then shamelessly tried to cash in on the nostalgia element by shoehorning a thousand references to it. While there's no reason to be secretly guilty about being madly in love with Patrick Swayze's sweet, sweet moves on the dance floor, I would personally keep my Romain Duris posters and Vanessa Paradis CDs hidden in my secret drawer.
The only compliment(?) I can give this film is that it is ripe for "borrowing" by David Dhawan. It will star Ranbir Kapoor and Anoushka Sharma in the lead, with Paresh Rawal and Reema Lagoo as the comic relief. It will have one catchy number (ft. Token Hip-Hop Artist) that will be played ad nauseam at The Capitol and will recoup all production costs with a tidy profit even, assuming it isn't released on the same weekend as a Shahrukh Khan movie. But then, who does that any more?