Reprinted with permission from ACP Media (Metro Live).
Article by Graham Adams.
Priceless is a soufflé that lightly sneers at consumerism and beautiful people living lives of wretched excess, writes Graham Adams.
Audrey Tautou made her name as the mischievous gamine Amelie in the film of the same name but seems destined never to find a role that harnesses her talents to quite the same degree. While Amelie was almost malevolent at times it was always in an impish way; in Priceless, Tautou — playing gold-digger Irene, who scours Paris and the Riviera for moneyed men — is simply venal and consequently far less attractive than Amelie, despite the slinky dresses with the plunging necklines she favours. (In fact, in several scenes her outfits are so skimpy she might as well be topless.)
In a classic farcical setup, the story begins when she wanders down to a hotel bar late one night and mistakes shy barman Jean (Gad Elmaleh) for a wealthy businessman. Soon they are in bed together in the Presidential Suite, which is fine until outraged staff find them together in the morning — and Irene finds out Jean is far too poor to have any hope of indulging her expensive tastes. Worse, her romp with him costs her the patronage of her current elderly and wealthy beau, so when Jean pursues her to Nice she punishes him by going on a spending spree with his manifestly inadequate credit card. He is rescued by the financial support of a wealthy older woman, Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam), who adopts him as her companion, while Irene (having moved on to another rich man) teaches Jean how to extract money from his benefactor. Naturally, as the formula decrees, she falls in love with him in the process.
Priceless is a soufflé that lightly sneers at consumerism and beautiful people living lives of wretched excess but its real triumph is that a film centred on two unscrupulous people busy exploiting the vanity of the elderly rich remains highly watchable and amusing throughout — although sadly it is never much more than that.