Romain Duris as Alex and Vanessa Paradis as Juliette in...

Romain Duris as Alex and Vanessa Paradis as Juliette in IFC Films' "Heartbreaker" directed by Pascal Chaumeil. Credit: IFC Films

The perpetually unshaven Romain Duris, who made such impression in the 2005 drama "The Beat That My Heart Skipped," proves he's one of France's more versatile exports in "Heartbreaker," whose destination is so apparent you hesitate to give away the premise.

Rascally ne'er-do-well Alex (Duris) and his sister Melanie (the wonderful Julie Ferrier) run a romance-demolition service. For a reasonable sum, concerned friends and relatives can see their loved ones saved from marital disaster via the intrusion of Alex, who is guaranteed to make the betrothed see the error of her ways.

Alex is always successful, always discreet, and always sticks to business - until he meets a mobster's daughter, Juliette (Vanessa Paradis), and loses his cool.

In debt to gangsters - aren't all roguish movie characters in debt to gangsters? - Alex accepts his greatest challenge: Derailing the upcoming wedding of Juliette and her investment banker boyfriend, whom Dad (Jacques Frantz) simply thinks is too boring for his daughter. But Alex only has 10 days to complete his mission. And Juliette is not easy.

Showing a flair for continental charm and bone-dry comedy, Duris also knows how to play a guy who's a bad actor. All those spy-movie tropes used by director Pascal Chaumeil keep "Heartbreaker's" tongue firmly in cheek, but Duris is also good at having Alex overplay almost every hand he's dealt, and do it with a complete lack of self-knowledge. The charmingly gaptoothed Paradis (the mother of Johnny Depp's children) doesn't remake the wheel, but she portrays Juliette as more than the predictable hardshell / soft-centered heroine: She has complexities, like her affection for Wham! Some things, obviously, can't be translated with mere subtitles.

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