“Benoît Jacquot’s high-toned love triangle Three Hearts has a wonderful opening scene, in which meet-cute clichés are teased with subtle atmospheric touches,” wrote Sight & Sound editor Nick James in a recent dispatch from Venice. “Hyper-ventilating tax officer Marc (Benoît Poelvoorde) misses the last train back to Paris from the quiet city of Valence, meets the enigmatic Sophie (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in a bar and asks for help to find a hotel—instead of which they both walk around all night talking. Thereafter, sadly, the subtleties evaporate. Marc faints from heart trouble on the way to their subsequent date in Paris. He goes back to Valence in search of Sophie, but she’s gone to the US with her unloved husband. Then, by accident, Marc meets Sylvie (Chiara Mastroianni), who happens to be Sophie’s beloved sister. You get the picture (their mother is even played by Catherine Deneuve). It’s a carefully made film but not a patch on, say, Claire Denis’s similar Vendredi soir.”
“Jacquot’s confidence as a stylist and a director of actors shines through in the way he handles this contrived, rom-com-esque scenario,” writes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club. “His forceful camera movements—sudden whip-pans, dollies warped by synchronized zooms—create a sense of dread that is bolstered by Bruno Coulais’s thriller-grade score. Of course, there’s nothing really sinister going on here; rather, Jacquot is trying—successfully—to tease out the sense of danger and tension most romances sorely lack.”
“It helps immeasurably that Gainsbourg, as an actress, is as intense as her presence feels evanescent, always seemingly onto the next moment already, leaving everyone in her wake,” writes Boyd van Hoeij in the Hollywood Reporter. “Mastroianni, as the more earth-bound if also more emotionally fragile of the siblings, perfectly complements Gainsbourg and they make for believable sisters who clearly adore each other…. Poelvoorde, who also falls in love with Mastroianni in Venice competition film The Price of Fame, adds another memorable dramatic character to his resume here… In a slight role, Deneuve is a matronly presence who dispenses food and kisses to her loved ones, though even in such a small supporting role she’s pitch-perfect.”
Update, 9/15: “Three Hearts is a satisfying melodrama about love at first sight, the cruelty of fate, and passion that never fades,” finds Kevin Jagernauth, who gives it a B at the Playlist.