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Heart Breaker at the International Film Center

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This French film is very light, in the tradition of a superior American comedy, The Wedding Crashers. A mainstream picture, it is not the type of fare that is usually offered by New York's IFC, where it opens September 10th in tandem with its availability via the On Demand feature of cable TV.

The characters include the allegedly charming con-man Alex (Romain Duris) and his assistants, sister Julie Ferrier and her husband Francois Damiens. Alex is motivated by his need to make a living and the somewhat tired cliché of being indebted to a loan shark - complete with a menacing henchman who looks like an angry Shrek.

Alex's service consists of breaking up engaged couples that are allegedly not truly in love with each other - at least according to a subjective family member. It is the ultimate Yenta experience. In fact if such a thing really existed, half of the world's mother-in-laws would probably use it to rid themselves of potentially independent daughter-in-laws. Our hero emotionally seduces the women by showing them what an actual sensitive man is by reciting poetry, or claiming to feed millions of the country's poor children. He is so adept at performing his chores that he does not even have to sleep with them, just open up their hearts to the multitude of romantic possibilities out there.

This movie has some enjoyable vignettes as exampled by the opening bit, featuring a couple vacationing in Morocco (the dusty third world setting looking more like a punishment than a vacation) when Alex helps an idealistic young woman rid herself of her loutish boyfriend. He does so whilst pretending to be a doctor aiding impoverished youngsters in the desert. It is pretty much downhill from there - with a plot so fully predicable that I actually started to nod off a few times, so if anything magnificent happened please contact me and I will make a full retraction.

The majority of the picture consists of Alex attempting to break up Juliette (Vanessa Paradis) and her fiancé (Jacques Frantz) at the former's father's request. I was grateful this escapade played out in the gorgeous Monte Carlo, as I would have really had a serious problem if the movie remained in the rank Moroccan setting. The problem with this plan is that Juliette's fiancé is good looking, rich and an actual philanthropist who loves Juliette dearly. A goldfish could figure out where this is going. I did like the beautiful Helena Noguerra in the thankless role of Juliet's libidinous galpal.

I attended a party some many years ago and one of the guests proclaimed that although he was not a fan of foreign movies, he really did enjoy Green Card. I did not have the heart to tell him that Green Card was an American movie that happened to showcase a French actor. Well, this picture is closer to that one than any of the French comedies of yesteryear. The fact that this is being remade into English leads me to believe that it is only because most Americans do not want to read subtitles. The Heartbreaker is not a terrible picture, but I advise waiting to see it for free somewhere, if you do feel compelled to do so at all.