Saturday, March 07, 2015

“3 Hearts”– Movie Review



This week, I attended the opening night of “Rendez-vous With French Cinema” at The Film Society Of Lincoln Center and screened the United States Premiere of the drama “3 Hearts”, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve and Chiara Mastroianni.


When a man marries a woman only to discover he had unknowingly fallen in love with her sister before they met, can the marriage survive or will he leave his wife for her sister?


Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde) has had a bad day.  A tax inspector in town on a business trip, he has not only lost his cell phone but also missed the last train to Paris.  In need of a hotel room for the night, he runs into Sylvie (Gainsbourg) at a local bar and she offers to help him find a place.  During their search, they spend an evening walking and talking; the two seem to be hitting it off and they stay up all night chatting until he has to catch his train the next morning.  When Sylvie sees him off, they agree to meet again in Paris a few days later; unfortunately, life intrudes on this Friday afternoon and Marc misses his appointment with Sylvie who, believing she was stood-up, dejectedly returns home. 

Returning to his job, Marc winds up meeting Sophie (Mastroianni), whom he agrees to take on as a client.  After their business is completed, Marc and Sophie develop a romance and ultimately marry; but during the wedding plans, Marc learns that Sophie’s sister is Sylvie.  At the reception, he and Sylvie meet; what Sophie doesn’t know is that this wonderful man she had told her sister she was marrying was the same one with whom Sylvie had fallen in love some time earlier.  Since Sylvie having a close relationship with her sister, she refuses to disclose their secret to Sophie.   

Over time, Marc and Sophie eventually have a child; Sylvie, however, remains distant from them, both emotionally and geographically – she has in fact decided to follow her boyfriend to live in The United States.  When their mother (Deneuve) is about to celebrate her 60th birthday, Sophie plans a big party and invites Sylvie.  Upon finally returning home, she is conflicted; while glad that her sister has found happiness, she is also resentful – Sylvie feels that it is she who should’ve wound up with Marc.  When Sylvie and Marc are finally reunited after all this time, their affair is rekindled.  But will they be able to keep this a secret from Sophie or will Marc leave her for her sister? 


In a sense, “3 Hearts” could be considered a typical French film; it is a story about a complicated romantic relationship that neither portends nor pretends to supply its audience with a conveniently comfortable happy ending.  Having said that, however, it is ultimately a movie that expects its audience to suspend its disbelief to extraordinary limits and in doing so, sacrificing a significant amount of credibility from what could have otherwise been an interesting tale.  What saves it, at least to some extent, are the performances from its cast, who struggle to elevate the material they have been supplied. 

Looking at “3 Hearts” from the perspective of each individual performance of its cast, there’s precious little with which to find fault.  Specifically, the women – Gainsbourg, Mastroianni and Deneuve – fail to disappoint; it is their movie and they are in no way shy about taking the spotlight from Benoît Poelvoorde’s character, who appears to be not only physically debilitated with coronary problems but also psychologically debilitated by lack of a spine.  Gainsbourg is particularly wonderful in displaying a sad woman whose life – both professionally and personally – has proved to be disappointing.

Where “3 Hearts” collapses, however, is from its own story; if you don’t buy into the premise, you won’t buy into the rest of the movie and it’s terribly difficult to buy into the premise that this film provides.  Modern technology seems to be a running theme here – Marc can’t exchange telephone numbers with Sylvie because he’s lost his cell phone and inadvertently, the two realize the coincidence when Marc answers the Skype call from Sylvie on Sophie’s laptop.  Why didn’t the two exchange names at the outset?  Also, couldn’t Marc have given Sylvie a business card so she could contact him?  Additionally, there attempts to be a theme of cheating brought in as a subplot to resonate the main story; Marc audits the town mayor (who performed the marriage ceremony between he and Sophie) because of some questionable monetary practices.  Ultimately, however, it is the audience that is cheated.   

3 Hearts (2014) on IMDb

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