Monday, March 31, 2008

Priceless (Hors de Prix) FRENCH

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Gold Digger Mistakes Bartender for Rich Heir in Class-Conscious French Farce

Irene (Audrey Tautou), a shameless gold digger, is staying at a posh resort with Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff), an elderly sugar daddy who has just proposed to her that very evening. But after the old coot falls asleep next to her, the gypsy-like Jezebel slips out of bed in the middle of the night and heads down to the hotel’s lounge to see if she can find an even wealthier sucker to put a ring on her finger.
There, she starts flirting with Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a shy nerd she mistakes for the grandson of an obscenely rich guest, when in fact he happens to be just a broke bartender about to go off duty. Flattered that this gorgeous young woman finds him attractive, he does nothing to clear up the confusion.
Instead, he uses his connections to gain access to the penthouse suite in order to further impress her. And only after she’s seduced the impostor into a session of passionate lovemaking does the hussy awaken the next morning to realize that for once the tables have been turned on her.
Irene then rushes back to her fiancĂ© Jacques, but he no longer wants her. Meanwhile, the suddenly-confident Jean decides to explore his own potential as a gigolo. It’s not long before he finds his first victim in the very willing Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam), a wealthy widow accustomed to lavishing attention on boy-toys in return for sexual favors.
This is the messy point of departure of Priceless, directed by Pierre Salvadori (Apres Vous), a complicated, class-conscious French farce which features more coupling and uncoupling than you might care to keep track of. For, as the plot thickens, Irene and Jean not only continue to date each other, but they simultaneously keep pursuing senior citizens for the sake of some easy money.
The picture pairs the talented Audrey Tautou (Amelie) and Gad Elmaleh, the engaging actor who handled the title role in The Valet, another romantic romp predicated on a case of mistaken identity. That crowd-pleaser revolved around a hapless car parker paid to pretend to be dating a married tycoon’s mistress in order to trick the suspicious paparazzi.
Though Gad’s character this go-round is initially less empathetic, there’s enough of an arc that you ultimately feel for the plight of his latest working class-hero. The same can be said for Ms. Tautou’s Irene, a materialistic, sex-industry slut who magically transforms before your eyes into a spiritual soul capable of following her heart and riding off into the sunset on the back of a scooter with a penniless Mr. Right

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for nudity and sexuality.
In French with subtitles.
Running time: 104 minutes
Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Films

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