Like a number of "typically" French films I see, Benoit Jacquot's "3 Hearts," is no different. When questioned after watching such films, I invariably remark, "that was very French!" While I realize that stereotyping is not a very admirable pursuit, I still must argue that there is a certain percentage of French people (don't ask me what the percentage is)whom continue to embrace the apparent national pastime—and that of course is the pursuit of "passion."
Every few minutes we're reminded (through its galling overuse of a few measures of its repetitious soundtrack) that the film is supposed to be some kind of thriller. The main character is Marc, a government tax inspector, who occasionally must take the train to provincial towns near Paris, to perform audits. One night, after missing his train, he meets on the streets, Sylvie, an attractive woman trapped in an unhappy marriage. Perhaps it's their mutual love for nicotine or simply an unconscious recognition that they're both lonely hearts, that the two make such an immediate connection.
Unfortunately, after they agree to meet at a park in Paris the next day, Marc has a panic attack and gets there two hours late, a few minutes after Sylvie has left. Sylvie ends up agreeing to go with her husband to Minneapolis but the story hasn't ended. Through the greatest of coincidences, Marc runs into Sylvie's sister, Sophie, who's having trouble with the books to the family antique business. Just like Sylvie, I found it difficult to understand why the sister now falls for the nondescript Marc. Funny how Marc doesn't look at the top of the stairs on the walls at Sophie and Sylvie's house since he would have easily deducted that Sophie was Sylvie's sister. It's only after an engagement that he stumbles on Sophie's computer where he comes face to face with Sylvie, who is trying to connect with her sister, via a Skype session.
The rest of the tedious "3 Hearts" depicts the arrival of Sylvie for Marc and Sophie's wedding. Wouldn't you know it, but Marc and Sylvie end up hooking up for some passionate goings on. But that's all you get: passion
and nothing else. Not one iota of character development involving any of the principals. Director Jacquot is simply content to smugly ask for gold stars due to the intensity of Marc and Sylvie's desire to copulate like enraptured bunny rabbits in heat. And to emphasize how "passionate" these neurotic lovers are, instead of going back to his wife and child, Marc walks off into the sunset with Sylvie!
I forgot to mention there is a sub-plot: Marc discovers that the mayor of the provincial town he's been auditing has been cooking the books. There is some indication that the powerful man may try and retaliate against Marc, but he doesn't seem to care (due to his obsession with Sylvie). The sub-plot goes nowhere when the whole issue of the Mayor's criminality, never resolved.
"3 Hearts" keeps your interest only insofar as to how the love triangle will resolve. When we find out next to nothing about Marc and Sylvie after they resume their passionate canoodling, one realizes that only the most passionate of Francophiles will find this "passionfest" something quite compelling. For others such as myself, the pursuit of passion as only a means to an end, is no substitute for true intellectual enlightenment.