Pierre Salvadori’s Priceless is a modern, more cynical version of Breakfast At Tiffany’s – the location moved to opulent Southern France, and Audrey Hepburn has been replaced by the equally gorgeous and engaging Audrey Tautou. She plays a money hungry legacy chaser, a young and intelligent, pretty woman who stalks ridiculously wealthy older men, seducing them into becoming their sugar daddy. She is one of an elite group who haunts this area, and similar places throughout the world, and she will stop at nothing to make sure her life is not taken away. Gad Elmaleh (the funniest man in France) plays a hardworking waiter/barman/doorman/hotel employee extraordinaire in this extravagant place, also serving never being served. A series of events lead to Tautou’s character believing Elmaleh’s to be one of the elite she pursues, and enchanted by her he plays along. Soon the truth is revealed- Tautou leaves in search of another, and Gad is left with nothing. Naturally, he loves her and follows her, and so begins a gently funny and clever series of games where the viewer roots for the inept couple to finally get together.
Normally i am not a fan of romantic comedies, but I am a big fan of Audrey Tautou. She is versatile, always charming, always entertaining, always managing to lift what would otherwise be average films. Here she plays to her most popular strengths – her cute smile and sparkle in her eye meaning she is concocting some mischievous scheme, her dialogue delivery letting her character be at the same time strong willed and vulnerable. She is given a clever script to work with, and her character is an opportunistic schemer. Elmaleh is on familiar territory here, and he does his best Basil Fawlty routine, though he is a more likable character. He gets to perform some Buster Keaton-esque scenes, all the time enamouring the audience to him. We root for him because he is a loser. He want him to succeed because he has thrown away what little he had on an unlikely chance at love. The chemistry between the two is strong, and it is almost an inversion of Tautou and Kassovitz from Amelie. With the surprises in the script alongside these performances, the film already rises above the rubbish that is usual in the genre.
Salvadori, as well as getting the best from the film’s stars, gets to show off the scenery of Southern France and gives everything the gleam of wealth and beauty. Of course, all of this is hollow and ultimately all we want is for the characters to get away together. Although the film has little depth, the script fills the holes and it takes a talent to turn a character who is little more than a hooker and thief into someone we can care about. With moments reminiscent of Heartbreakers, Priceless is above all a heart-warming film like Amelie that will make even the most cynical hermit believe in romance.
As always, feel free to leave any comments on the movie and the review: Is this up there with Amelie, or should we stop making such comparisons?