Priceless (Hors de prix) (PG-13)

Comedy 104 March 28, 2008
By Vadim Rizov
Priceless begins as standard, unconvincing, assembly-line French farce and ends as a cop-out, feel-good rom-com. In between, it develops into something considerably more interesting. Audrey Tautou slinks off Amelie’s ghost as the unrepentant gold-digger Irene—waif-thin and tits out—pissed that her partner/benefactor Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff) has fallen asleep drunk on her birthday. In the bar, she finds Jean (Gad Elmaleh)—splayed out on the couch, he seizes the opportunity to seem like a rich layabout rather than a bartender. A series of unconvincing events later, Jacques discovers Irene’s tryst with Jean, and then Irene discovers Jean’s own poverty. Jean ditches his job to follow Irene to Nice, allowing her to bleed him dry—for love on his part, revenge on hers—before unexpectedly becoming a gigolo for Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam), a widow no less mercenary and exploitative than Irene’s series of men. Now colleagues in sexual survivalism, Tautou and Elmaleh give the lengthy middle passage a rancid fascination: Unlike American formula romances, which simply assume that glamour and riches come with the territory, co-writer/director Pierre Salvadori makes explicit how gold-digging undermines both parties. Then everyone lives happily ever after regardless, which is even more cynical.
Pierre Salvadori Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Marie-Christine Adam, Vernon Dobtcheff, Jacques Spiesser, Didier Brice, Annelise Hesme, Jean-Michel Lahmi, Blandine Pélissier Benoît Graffin, Pierre Salvadori Philippe Martin Samuel Goldwyn Films