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Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sigourney Weaver

August 2002                                                  SITE MAP   SEARCH
cast: Sigourney Weaver, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman, and Ray Liotta

director: David Mirkin

119 minutes (15) 2001
Icon VHS retail
[released 19 August]

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Emma French
Despite convincing comic turns from Ray Liotta (as Dean Cumanno) and Gene Hackman (as William B. Tensy), it is Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt who eat up the screen in this lightweight and appropriately heartless comedy. The mother and daughter pair, playing Maxine and Page Conners, plus a variety of colourful aliases, con men into marriage and just as rapidly extricate themselves in return for a healthy divorce settlement.
   Love Hewitt playing the super-bitch, in a star-making role, is a revelation and a relief. It prompts a performance far better than her customary doe-eyed ingénue roles, exemplified by her work in both the soapy teen melodrama Party Of Five which first drew her into the public gaze and the stomach turning, sentimental video promoting Enrique Iglesias' hit record 'Hero'. Her reversion to form as she weds one of the most bland and unappealing male leads of recent memory, Jason Lee, is all the more disappointing after the teaser of her earlier feistiness. Sigourney Weaver is incapable of a really bad performance but certainly capable of a lazy one, which is what she provides here. She also spends a disproportionate amount of time speaking and singing in an irritating Russian accent. Carrie Fisher's dull cameo as a divorce lawyer, played pretty much straight, is a criminal waste of talent, though Anne Bancroft's cameo as the lady who taught all others how to con is marginally better.
   Both Weaver and Love Hewitt are suitably sexed up in a range of ever more eye-popping costumes, with the camera work, all T&A close-ups, commanding the audience's lascivious gaze. In many ways Heartbreakers is a misanthropic film, with little sympathy for its central characters and even less desire to communicate any of that sympathy to the audience. Not quite as amiable or easy-going a film as it likes to think it is, yet still more stylish and good-looking than most studio pictures in the romantic comedy genre. The Conners' repertoire of money-making and defrauding scams, from putting glass in restaurant food for a free meal to securing a complimentary suite of rooms in Palm Beach's stunning mock-Renaissance folly, the Breakers Hotel, provides the bulk of the film's humour. The film effectively satirises the ludicrously litigious state of American society through such devices, and it is a pleasant novelty to see citizens merrily milking the system rather than sinking under it.
   One of the less obvious achievements of the film is its successful evocation of the Floridian landscape - from the opulence of Palm Beach to the murky everglades, until the setting colludes in the action as much as it does in that other sexy Florida crime caper Wild Things. Despite attempts at some multiple plot twists, the romantic outcome of Heartbreakers is not really in question from very early on. Given this predictability, the film lacks the pacing, warmth or gag-frequency necessary to sustain viewing pleasure throughout its length. This is a popcorn film belonging to the Farrelly brothers' school of moviemaking: some good one-liners and set-piece scenes, but a rather pat version of morality and a weak, unconvincing ending.