Thursday, May 8, 2008

Priceless (Hors de Prix)

I hadn't seen an Audrey Tatou movie since A Very Long Engagement and I wasn't actually champing at the bit to see this one. But we were desperate, and I had actually liked the director Pierre Salvadori's previous outing, Après Vous, rated at a mediocre 6.5 on IMDB.

It was a pleasant surprise to see the lead was the highly talented Gad Elmaleh as Jean, who was also the eponymous Valet (La Doublure). Once again, he's a member of the service industry (a sort of jack-of-all-trades in a hotel) when he's mistaken for a wealthy man by the gold-digging Irène (Tatou).

A second chance encounter results in chaos, and in his pursuit of Irène, he ends up living the life of a gigolo. This leads to an interesting examination of double standards, to say nothing of the peculiar situation of the two trading tips on how best to milk their respective marks.

At the same time, the aloof and mercenary Irène torments Jean, then warms to him, then finally becomes both jealous and admiring of his successes.

It is, as most French sex farces, rather seamy. You can't help but feel a little bad for their marks, however foolish. But the charisma of the leads ultimately wins out. And it doesn't hurt that Ms. Tatou is getting no less beautiful over time.

Actually, this movie is sort of an inverted Breakfast at Tiffany's, a thought made all the more striking by Tatou's resemblance to Audrey Hepburn. But obviously, it's not for the easily offended.

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