Friday, January 02, 2009

Movie Log: Priceless

I don't think it's fair to say that I'd see any movie with Audrey Tautou in it -- I'm still avoiding The DaVinci Code, for one -- but I'm quite willing to see any reasonably comedic movie she makes, and so The Wife and I watched Priceless sometime in late November once it hit video.

Priceless starts off in a ritzy hotel in Biarritz, where Jean (Gad Elmaleh) works as a bartender. Late one night, gorgeous Irene (Tatou) comes down to his bar after her much older sugar daddy, Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff) has fallen asleep. But Jean was dozing in a chair -- against regulations -- so Irene thinks he's another guest. (And so, by implication, also rich.) Jean does nothing to dispossess her of that notion, and beds her in the Royal Suite that night.

A year later, Irene and Jacques return, and Jean tries to pick up where he left off -- but Jacques finds out. And Irene learns that Jean isn't rich, which is a big problem -- she's a woman who wants all of the best things in life, and a poor guy isn't going to be able to provide them. So Jacques turns her out, and Irene then quickly turns Jean out. Then both Jean and Irene scramble to try to get what they each want -- and those things, at that moment, are completely incompatible.

Priceless turns into a romantic comedy along the way, but doesn't get there fully until the end; this isn't a movie that believes in romantic flapdoodle in the least. (Though Jean does.) Jean follows Irene, blows through what little money he has, and then figures out another way to stay close to her -- in more ways than one. There is a more romantic ending than I'd been suspecting, but it all makes sense. And there are a lot of interesting scenes about love, longing, and expectations along the way.

It's quite a French movie -- I was just reading through the IMDB boards about it, which are more literate that usual there, but still tend to miss the big differences in expectations between the Americans and the French. It's not that the French don't believe in love, but they, as a people, are willing to believe that it's not a single, overwhelming, unique thing the way Hollywood does. Priceless is very entertaining, all the more so if you can remember where the people in it came from. I shudder to think of what an American remake would look like; I hope it never happens.

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1 comment:

Carl V. Anderson said...

Priceless was great. I feel the same way you do about Audrey Tautou (and Davinci Code for that matter). My wife and I were able to catch this in the theater and really enjoyed it. Fun, romantic but not typical as it is not an Americanized romance. Look forward to catching it again on DVD sometime.

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