Reviewed by: Katy Carter

Priceless, in my opinion, is just that – absolutely priceless! Audrey Tautou plays Irène, who flits around the world with older, richer men, moving on when she finds a man wealthier. Bored and restless one night while her current beau sleeps, she ventures alone to the hotel bar, where she finds the be-suited bar man Jean (Gad Elmaleh) asleep on the job. She mistakenly assumes that he is a wealthy patron and turns on the charm, ending up in bed with him. When she is busted by her beau, she discovers that her new hope is a fraud. As he desperately tries to win her affection, he stumbles into the same gold-digging game…

I adored Audrey Tautou in Amelie, she was so sweet and unassuming. Here she plays an utterly determined, yet completely unsuccessful gold-digger, but despite this, you can’t help but feel for her character. I think it is those big, sad, Bambi eyes. She is an incredibly talented actress, and even as Irène acts the gold-digger to teach Jean, you are utterly taken in by her performance. She is never too much.

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She has been compared in the past to Audrey Hepburn, and looks-wise this is spot on, but her character in Priceless is much more reminiscent of a typical Marilyn Monroe character, all giggles and wiggles in front of the men she lures, but with an unmistakable darker undercurrent, utterly lost in this world and tinged with desperation. She looks sparkly and young, but she often pulls at imaginary crows' feet as she looks at herself in the mirror.

The film is beautifully shot, awash with rich, warm colours, and old school Hollywood sumptuous settings where Irène meets her wealthy men. The conspicuous consumption of clothes, jewellery and food is wonderful to watch, the irony being that despite being set in the modern day – it is old-fashioned glamour gifts that are given by generous partners – scooters and diamond earrings, jewel-encrusted watches. So very Great Gatsby, especially with the child-like joy that the characters get from such trifles.

I thoroughly enjoyed the onscreen chemistry between Elmaleh and Tautou, who sizzle as their characters grow to like one another. And despite the unsavoury nature of their business, you do warm to them. When Irène loses one wealthy beau after another, you do wonder who is taking advantage of who. And as the skies darken whilst she calls through her little black book, it is clear where your sympathies are meant to lie.

Reviewed on: 16 Oct 2008
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A young woman in search of a rich husband seduces a penniless waiter by mistake.
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Val Kermode ****

Director: Pierre Salvadori

Writer: Benoît Graffin, Pierre Salvadori

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

Year: 2006

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision


French 2008

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