In 2006 — possibly a year or two later here in the United States — a French film passed through with little fanfare.
It was called “Priceless,” and it conjured memories of those classic romance stories that used to come out of Hollywood.
Directed by Pierre Salvadori, “Priceless” is said to be heavily influenced by the 1961 Audrey Hepburn picture “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” and that is part of the reason for the feature’s classic feel. Another aspect comes from its screwball antics. Look closer, and it’s possible to see the influence of “The Philadelphia Story,” “The Apartment” or some other vintage love story from the distant past.
It’s that feel that classifies “Priceless” as an enjoyable throwback.
The film follows two leads in Jean (Gad Elmaleh) and Irene (Audrey Tautou). Jean is a responsible, young man working at a hotel on the French Rivera, while Irene is a beautiful gold digger who’s only interested in being spoiled by rich men. One fateful evening their paths cross in the hotel bar.
Jean is working the bar, and, after a slow evening, has fallen asleep on the couch in his tuxedo. Irene is looking for a drink after the older man she’s with has conked out. She takes Jean to be a wealthy visitor to the hotel, and he’s just as happy to oblige. After a few too many drinks, they end up in bed together. When Jean wakes up, Irene is gone, but the whole exchange will take place again a year later. This time, though, Irene will stay the entire night, and, with unfortunate circumstances out of Jean’s control, she’ll discover that he is just a regular fellow working at the hotel. With that, she’s gone.
Jean is unwilling to give up, though, as he’s fallen hard for Irene. So, he follows her to another hot spot in the Rivera, where she’s on the prowl for another fat wallet. Jean pursues hard, and Irene decides to stick around until his bank accounts are empty. Once that happens, Jean’s unable to pay the bill at the hotel, and something surprising happens.
An older lady picks up Jean, and she’s going to take care of everything. Madeleine (Marie-Christine Adam) picks up and pampers Jean immediately, and Irene, who’s found another rich stiff, is paying close attention. They compete for wealthy prizes from their respective suitors.
Through it all, Jean and Irene discuss their situations, and surprisingly, she begins to fall for him. As they delve deeper into their individual relationships, Irene realizes she might be in love with Jean. Certainly, that can’t be the case, right? She’s never felt this way before. Will she run off with Jean or stick with another older gentleman who will act as her bank? Jean, still madly in love with Irene, knows what he wants.
With its Rivera backdrop and memorable performances from Tautou and Elmaleh, “Priceless” is a terrific romantic comedy that’s instantly likable. Tautou, who you might remember from the 2001 hit “Amelie” or 2006’s forgettable “The Da Vinci Code,” is mesmerizing as usual, and her chemistry with Elmaleh is developed throughout this enchanting film. It’s almost overwhelming in the final sequences, as Jean and Irene come down to a decision that will put them together for the rest of their lives, or keep them on a path of gold diggery.
Finally, the French motion picture stands as a worthy date movie. The only drawback is the film’s subtitles, as it’s in French. Well, it’s not a drawback, but some folks aren’t fond of reading through their movies. However, it’s worth it with “Priceless,” a film with two protagonists that are finding their separate paths to each other. A great thing about Salvadori’s picture is that men and women will be able to relate, to either character depending on their pasts.
Have you been the pursuer or the pursued? Have you done anything crazy for love? Have you ever not listened to those who’ve told you someone is out of your league? If you can say yes to any of these questions, then you can indeed warm up to “Priceless,” a wonderful romantic comedy that takes us back to the heyday of the genre.
twoday magazine wants to know if love is all you need for a relationship to survive? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.
Check out some of Garrett’s other great date-night movies choices: