An interview with Pascal Chaumeil, director of HEARTBREAKER


Heartbreaker is the story of charming, funny and effortlessly cool, Alex (Duris), a professional heartbreaker who for a fee can turn any husband, fiancé or boyfriend into an ex. Alex has one ironclad rule: He only breaks up couples where the woman is unhappy. His latest job will put that rule to the test. The target is Juliette, a beautiful heiress who is set to marry the man of her dreams. With ten days until the wedding, Alex has been hired by her father to carry out his most daring seduction yet that risks him being caught by his ruthless personal creditors, angry exes, and the beautiful and independent Juliette herself. But worst of all, will he discover to his own cost that when it comes to love, the perfect plan doesn’t exist? This fall no one will be able to resist HEARTBREAKER.

Heratbreaker is the first feature film directed by Pascal Chaumeil.

BT: How did you come up with the idea of Heartbreaker?
PC: Well I think the original idea came from a family joke. A cousin of mine was involved in an intense relationship with a guy and everyone in the family felt that he was really bad for her but she did not want to hear about it. So uncles asked around for any actor that we could hire to try and seduce and her and hopefully show her that she can find somebody better. Eventually the man that was hired realized that this was something that he could do as a career and I decided that this was something that would make a great film.

BT: Did you contribute to the writing of this story?
PC: I read the first draft of the script where the concept of the story was there and the basic ideas and many of the aspects of the plot were already settled. But what we really worked on were the characters and some detailed aspects of the story. I tried to add some depth to characters and more events because I wanted the film to move really fast and I did not want the audience to have time to rest. I also added the idea of the dirty dancing. In the original script the writer was more of a fan of horror films, but I wanted to add an element to the film that showed the main character as a very self-confident woman and something of a young teenager, which adds a fairy tale element to the movie.

BT: How much were the actors allowed to improvise during the shooting of the film?
PC: We did not really improvise one specific scene but the film as a whole was done with an attitude of improvisation. I tried to give a lot of freedom to the actors but at the same time we have this pattern where we write a very precise story. During filming I want them to feel free and to give out a sort of energy that makes it seem that everything is happening on the spur of the moment. Especially with the character of Marc, this is a character that was birthed from improvisation. The actor was allowed a lot of freedom and he was allowed to go in different directions with his character. I left the door open to improvisation with the film.

BT: How did you go about casting the film?
PC: I knew I needed a really glamorous couple for the two main actors and wanted them to be really sexy and to have something special about them. For the character of Alex played by Romain Duris, I knew we had to find a way to make this character lovable and Romain brought some truth to his character and also some fragility. Even though he is a seducer you can feel that this guy has some doubts and that is why I chose Romain, because he can play the part of a seducer and still be loved by the audience. For Juliette, she is a very strong woman and I thought that Vanessa would also bring a fragility to the character and also a certain depth. The camera loves these two actors and I was lucky enough that they accepted the parts. For the other characters, I was looking for actors with strong personalities that would be able to bring those personalities to their characters. The good thing about it is that they all get along very well.

BT: How did you come up with the visual style of the film?
PC: We worked on the style during the whole process and even while writing we thought about how we would shoot certain moments. I wanted the film to have a very international look, the film takes place in Monaco but there is a feeling that the film could take place anywhere. We shot the film in anamorphic Cinemascope. I wanted the film to be sunny and to have very bright colors. We talked to the DP and I wanted a lot of camera moves and angles and I wanted the film to be almost choreographed in a way.

BT: There is a very nostalgic element about this film, can you explain this?
PC: I really love old movies; I really love the genre of romantic comedies. We did not want to be smarter than the genre or condescending; we wanted to be respectful but at the same time we wanted to put our own spin on the film. We had a lot of inspiration from movies from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. I really love Bee Wilder and I feel that he is the master of comedies. It is a movie but at the same time it should also be funny. I did not want the film to go in just one direction.


About Author

Bijan Tehrani

Bijan Tehrani a film director, film critic and writer, works as editor in chief of Cinema Without Borders while teaching Language of Film and Film History at workshops nationwide. Bijan has won several awards in international film festivals and book fairs for his short films and children's books.

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