Heartbreakers is the story of a mother-daughter conwoman team, Max and Page Connors (Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love-Hewitt respectively).It initially interested me because the idea of conwomen sounded interesting; it’s always the men who get to pull of elaborate schemes, a la Matchstick Men, The Italian Job and the Oceans series.
I was incredibly disappointed with it. Why? Because Max and Page’s conning is almost exclusively restricted to seduce-and-destroy tactics. In the opening scenario, Max has inveigled Dean (Ray Liotta) into marrying her by withholding sex. Then she continues to withhold sex after the wedding. Enter Page posing as his sexy, skimpily-attired secretary who maneuvers Dean into a compromising position. Instant divorce settlement. The rest of the move evolves around Max and Page trying for one last scores with a mega-millionaire while falling in actual love with men who conveniently happen to be very wealthy.
For sure, Max and Paige have a few petty scams which don’t rely on sex – pretending to slip on the floor of a posh hotel and then spilling water as leverage for a free room; sprinkling crushed glass into their meals to get comped. But for the most part, the tactics are sexual, from Page’s comically sexy outfits to Max distracting a guy at the petrol pump so Page can use his charge card.
The sad thing is, Max actually had potential because of the way she thinks on her feet – in one scene, posing as a Russian, her potential new husband William (Gene Hackman) takes her to a Russian club and she has to fake her way through the language. But this was an isolated scene and in the context of her playing a sexy Russian in distress because she is threatened with deportation and wouldn’t you know, if she marries an American, she gets to stay.
Oh, and then Max-as-the-sexy-Russian locks horns with William’s housekeeper, who has her eye on a cut of William’s inheritance and sees Max as a threat. Because female conwomen relying on seduce-and-destroy tactics isn’t tacky enough, no, we need a housekeeper waiting for her boss to cark it so she can inherit.
Why couldn’t we have a female conwomen movie with lots of cool gadgets a la Oceans, or a smooth-talking duo posing as postal workers or IRS agents a la Matchstick Men? Why did they have to be obviously sexy, and rely on sexual tactics? The closest I can think to one of the men in abovementioned movies using seduction tactics is Linus (Matt Damon) in Ocean’s Thirteen… and he still gets to spend most of the trilogy demonstrating his technical skills.
I wonder what Ripley would say if she were to meet Max.