August 30, 2011

French Movies: Priceless

It's a light romantic comedy from 2006 with Audrey Tautou.  I understand the genre can strike fear in the hearts of many. Not to worry: no scary encounters with Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston or Gerard Butler.

"Priceless" or "Hors de Prix" is set on the Côte d'Azur amongst the Jet Set and also some beautiful people, first and foremost Audrey Tautou as Irène. Her job is pretty straightforward: ingratiate herself with wealthy guys and buy as much as possible on their euro.

Sometimes, old sugar daddies fall asleep rather early. One evening (it's her birthday), Irène is bored and wanders down to the hotel bar where she encounters a rather charming young man.  Jean, obedient hotel employee, realizes what she's all about but because he is so enchanted by Ms. Tautou (who wouldn't be?) leads her to believe what both of them want to believe.

Irène's current supplier of lovely clothes, shoes, bags, caviar, champagne and lodgings in the Grand Hotel discovers her indiscretion ("you should know old men may fall asleep early, but they wake early.")  severs the gold credit card and kicks her out.  She runs to Jean, professing love as the reason she is knocking on his door.  He loses his job because one can only pretend so long to be a guest of the Imperial suite when one is actually supposed to be cleaning it. Irène is pissed off she got bumped down the food chain, leaves, Jean follows, she tries to cure him of his romantic notions by spending savings he is happy to squander on her. But alas, soon, it's down to one euro for which he can buy ten more seconds of her time.

The film skips merrily along despite not a whole lot of chemistry between Ms. Tautou and Gad Elmaleh to a predictable happy end but in between you get a fashion show of French savoir vivre, how to con and be conned, all taken with a gallic shrug; "C'est la Vie."

Directed by Pierre Salvatori, the movie is loosely based on "Breakfast at Tiffany's" although "Irma La Douce" would have been my guess.  Where "Breakfast" tries to uncover the why, "Priceless" is a lot more literal and straightforward.  "Priceless" is not a classic but still a lot of fun to watch.

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