Friday, July 18, 2008

Priceless (aka Hors de prix) (2006)

At a glance: The visual pleasantry and chemistry of Audrey Tautou and Gad Elmaleh combine to lift this light, enjoyable romantic comedy of mistaken identity.

Jean (Gad Elmaleh) is a struggling young hotel worker who, one night, comes out from behind the bar at the insistence of a customer and falls asleep. Meanwhile, Irene (Audrey Tautou), a young woman whose rich elderly boyfriend has just passed out on her birthday, wanders down to the hotel bar to have a little celebration. She mistakes the bartender for a patron, and he doesn’t discourage her. They have a night of passion, but when her boyfriend finds out, he dumps her. Rejected by her ticket to financial security, she focuses instead on the hotel worker, unaware that he is as poor as she is. Gentle French comedy is not only genuinely funny, but also is great to look at; Elmaleh’s sleepy eyes and Tautou’s body and energy are often captivating. Also of note here are the stunning French Riviera locations – and Tautou’s dresses. After watching Tautou be stripped of all personality and charm in The Da Vinci Code, and then seeing her restrained and skeletal in Hunting and Gathering (aka Ensemble, c'est tout), it was marvelous to see her in full flower in a role ideally suited for her. She’s still emaciated (at times even distractingly so) but at least she’s got her mojo back. One weakness: the occasional, in-your-face dated overly ‘jaunty’ music. Rating: 3 of 4

"There's not much substance to "Priceless," but what is there is effortlessly crafted and entertaining, and the locales in Nice and Monte Carlo are just spectacular."
- Rob Thomas (Capital Times [Madison, WI])

"It might remind you of those early-'60s capers that starred a different Audrey -- Hepburn."
- Chris Hewitt (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

"After being drained of all personality for her role in The Da Vinci Code, Tautou regains her Amelie effervescence."
- Matt Brunson (Creative Loafing)

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