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PRICELESS

SYNOPSIS:
Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a barman/waiter in a grand hotel in the South of France, is mistaken for a young millionaire by beautiful, scheming Irene (Audrey Tautou), who specializes in sugar daddies. They have a drunken one night stand before she discovers his lowly status, and beats a quick retreat. But Jean is lovestruck and pursues her around the Cote d'Azur. Irene bleeds him dry - but he gets a chance to emulate Irene's lifestyle as a gigolo to wealthy Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam) and moves in to a magnificent hotel with her. Irene now starts to give him advice on the tricks of the trade, and grows closer and closer to him. But a girl needs a rich escort and Irene is about to get a new one, when fate and cupid give her one last chance at real romance.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
With dialogue as sparkling as the champagne and a scenario as delightful as the scenery, Priceless takes a fresh look at the romantic comedy subgenre in which Pretty Woman is the best known example. The hooker who gets hooked. Never mind that any woman who is as smart and looks as fabulous as Audrey Tautou would easily find a genuine Prince Charming-And-Rich, the suspension of disbelief is a pleasant interlude for the 106 minutes it takes to tell this entertaining story.

Performed with gusto but never overplayed, and always aided by Gad Elmaleh's somewhat hang dog face (should have been christened Sad Elmaleh), the film's tone is a clever balance between the comic and the dramatic. Tautou manages to be adorable at the same time as being wickedly self centred and even rather cruel; her character is made up of several layers that we can sense under the façade - especially when she is found out by the money bags and cut off from her money supply.

There is a serious theme hiding inside the frivolity: true love being priceless, of course. Against the sparkling diamonds and expensive designer clothes that are the measure of a gigolo's or gold digger's success, that is the one real currency that cannot be returned, exchanged or bartered.

Entertaining and marvellous to look at, Priceless is great escapism and true to form for French romantic comedy: sexy and funny and politically incorrect.

Review by Louise Keller:
There is an abundance of champagne, caviar and lobster, and the Riviera sparkles like a diamond. There is no shortage of expensive rocks and baubles either, or designer couture, exquisite underwear, stilettos and handbags. And there is Audrey Tautou, who steals every scene as she exudes the same irrepressible charm she showed us in Amelie. Love may come with a price tag, but in the final analysis, it is the only thing worth having. Enchanting from start to finish, Priceless is a scrumptious romantic comedy that is bursting with a contagious joie de vivre.

When we first meet Gad Elmaleh's Jean, he is obligingly walking dogs belonging to the rich clientele of the ritzy hotel in Biarritz, where he works. We quickly learn that he is hard working and eager to please, in all his other roles - barman, waiter and concierge. Conversely, Audrey Tautou's high class call girl Irene doesn't like to work, but likes to watch others at work. Jean and Irene meet in hilarious circumstances at the hotel bar. She thinks he is a guest, and when he mixes her a cocktail (or six) adorned with a decorative paper umbrella, in no time they find themselves in bed together in the Imperial Suite. Elmaleh, with his puppy dog eyes and expressionless face is a wonderful contrast to Tautou, who is warm and funny, as she wrinkles her nose, smiles and wiggles her way into every man's bed and heart, wearing almost-there gowns that magically stay in place with nothing but a wish.

Jean is so smitten by Irene that he willingly lets himself be taken for the ride of his life. We wince with him, as the five star hotel swipes his credit card. Ouch! When all seems lost, fortunes change as Jean finds himself mistaken for a gigolo by Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam), a wealthy widow with pink luggage and a penchant for bestowing gifts. There are laughs galore as Irene schools Jean in the art of unfinished sentences and gazing into the distance as a device to milk their mark. Writer director Pierre Salvadori keeps a tight reign on the film's heart as Jean and Irene spend their respective lovers' money, before finding something far more precious. I had fun spotting the different locations - the drop dead gorgeous lobby of Monte Carlo's Hotel de Paris, the plush hotel corridors of its sister hotel the Hermitage, the elegant casino, the sumptuous restaurants.... Ooo la la!

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

PIERRE SALVADORI INTERVIEW

PRICELESS (M)
(France, 2006)

Hors de prix

CAST: Gad Elmaleh, Audrey Tautou, Marie-Christine Adam, Vernon Dobtcheff, Jacques Spiesser, Annelise Hesme

PRODUCER: Philippe Martin

DIRECTOR: Pierre Salvadori

SCRIPT: Pierre Salvadori, Benoit Graffin

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Gilles Henry

EDITOR: Isabelle Devinck

MUSIC: Camille Bazbaz

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Not credited

RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy Films

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 5, 2007







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