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"3 Hearts": What a Shame 

Wednesday, Mar 25 2015
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With a planned Paris meetup unluckily thwarted, two star-crossed lovers go their separate ways, he unwittingly into a marriage with her sister. That could get interesting, but it doesn't in the self-canceling 3 Hearts. Benoît Jacquot's romantic melodrama comes across as something like An Affair to Remember meets Your Sister's Sister, sans both the sweeping glamour of the former and the latter's easygoing modern charm. Instead it has what seems like a calculatedly broad "French movie" appeal, with pedigreed stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Chiara Mastroianni, and Catherine Deneuve arranged like rigid bowling pins on a slick, flat surface of plot, and Benoît Poelvoorde as the hapless semi-homely man in their midst, the gutterball. He's not wrongly cast as a tax inspector with a cardiac condition, but as the ominous strains of Bruno Coulais' score suggest, perhaps he's less realistically a contender for adult romance than for outright noir. A shame, then, that the movie doesn't quite want to go there. Its scenery is attractive, its camera moves crisp, but the story itself remains lazily elliptical and contrived. Jacquot's spiritless attempts at novelistic scope only underscore a shortage of psychological complexity: characters supposedly consumed with desire seem oddly lethargic, and long pauses presumably intended to be pregnant seem instead merely stagnant. With so many hearts going at once, don't we deserve to feel the beat?

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Jonathan Kiefer

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SF Weekly movie critic Jonathan Kiefer is on Twitter: @kieferama and of course @sfweeklyfilm.

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