Friday, April 22, 2011

Movies: French Rom-Com Double Feature

Americans don't have a monopoly on utterly predictable romantic comedies. If the box office performance of today's two movies is any indication, even the supposedly-sophisticated French enjoy harebrained boy-meets-girl plots. Of course, the French romcoms are a little different (most of them have a chauvinistic streak), but the wacky premises of the two films below would fit in fine at an American multiplex:

"I Do" (PrĂȘte-moi ta main)

Henpecked middle-aged bachelor Luis Costa (Alain Chabat) is tired of the constant criticism he gets from his mother and sisters for not marrying. In a desperate move, he hires his best friend's sister Emma (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) to pose as the perfect girl. Costa's scheme is maddeningly complex - he'll pretend to fall in love with Emma and she'll jilt him at the altar, souring him on marriage and hopefully getting his family off his back once and for all.

The plot of the movie is ridiculous, of course, but that's like complaining about a horror flick because it has too much gore and violence. What really sinks "I Do" is the lukewarm chemistry between the two leads, Costa and Gainsbourg. They've been in a number of films together, and it really looks like they're just collecting a paycheck in this one.

Rating: 4/10

"Heartbreaker" (L'arnacoeur)

Alex (Romain Duris) specializes in breaking up relationships for profit. Concerned family or friends hire him to split up people who aren't right for each other. Despite the unscrupulous work, Alex only targets unhappy couples, and avoids the ones that are in love. When Alex falls deeply in debt and gets hired by a wealthy man to kill his daughter's wedding, though, he might be forced to break that rule:

"Heartbreaker" has two big things going for it: gorgeous scenery (it was shot in Monaco) and the charming comic-relief couple of Julie Ferrier and François Damiens. They play Alex's partners-in-crime, and they completely steal the show from the lead couple.

Rating: 5/10


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