What lengths would you go to for love? Would you start a Trojan War, renounce your throne of Zamunda, make a mixed tape, or spend your entire life savings on the object of your affection?
If you would spend your life savings, either you are on the brink of lovesick insanity or you are a Jean type, the lead male character in the French romantic comedy "Priceless (Hors de Prix)."
Jean (Gad Elmaleh) is essentially a good guy. He’s hard working (tends to the bar, does room service, maid service and walks dogs at the exclusive French Riviera hotel where he works), sweet, shy, but unfortunately he is poor.
That last part is a definite turn off for the glamorous gold digger Irene (Audrey Tautou), the apple of his eye.
From the beginning, it is clear she will only date men based upon the figures in their savings account. She is used to them buying her designer dresses, shoes, and handbags, but she is always on the lookout for someone a bit richer, and possibly younger. She’s also looking for an engagement ring that will set her up for life.
In fact, the only reason why she spends a night with the poor Jean is because she believes he is wealthy. She identifies the cigar in his hand as extremely expensive (it was given to him by a wealthy hotel patron looking for a little conversation), and he plays up to his mistakenly rich part.
He dazzles her with his impressive drink mixing skills and then, after a few too many cocktails, they go upstairs to "his suite" for a night of seduction.
It may seem like a slimy move, but he is very charming without being oily during this part, which is what makes him likeable. In addition, I think he just wanted the opportunity to show off to a woman like her, but she seduces him then leaves before he wakes up.
Move forward a year, Irene’s sugar daddy of the moment, Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff) brings her back to the hotel to propose, but she can’t resist one more night with Jean.
That night starts to define the rest of their turbulent and almost criminal lives.
While the premise sounds harsh, it really is a charming foreign movie. Like most romantic comedies, it’s predictable and moves along quickly, but it is Elmaleh and Tautou that make "Priceless" enjoyable.
While they both do mean things, Elmaleh plays his part with reluctance and kindness, which makes you like him. Then there’s the lovely Audrey Tautou who charms the audience (and every man she meets) and makes you unable to dislike the gold digging Irene. She’s the only reason why I wanted to see this movie and probably the only reason why this 2006 French movie was distributed to America, albeit two years later.
I gave this film a B-.
Dedra Cordle is a Messenger staff writer.