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Priceless/Hors de Prix


Stars: Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, Marie-Christine Adam, Vernon Dobtcheff, Jacques Spiesser, Annelise Hesme, Charlotte Vermeil, Claudine Baschet, Laurent Claret

Director: Pierre Salvadori

There’s something pleasingly old-fashioned -in the best possible sense of the word - about this charming and funny romantic comedy. It reminded me of those glossy, utterly unbelievable and audience-friendly Rock Hudson-Doris Day comedies, all the more because of the attractive visual gloss applied to the show by director/co-writer Salvadori, who is beautifully served by cinematographer Gilles Henry, production designer Yves Fournier, costume designer Virginie Montel and beautiful French Riviera locations.

Best of all, there’s Tautou who, having recovered from her stint opposite Tom Hanks in The DaVinci Code, glows with sex appeal and charisma as an adventuress who lives well as the mistress of wealthy older men. (And praise is due to veteran character actor Vernon Dobtcheff who scores, in both senses of the word, as Tautou’s elderly ‘sponsor’). When Tautou mistakes waiter Elmaleh for another millionaire and makes a pass, he believes heaven is his – until she finds out he’s poor and heads off for richer pastures, leaving Elmaleh to become a gigolo in homage to her ‘calling’...

While there’s never the slightest doubt how things are going to turn out in the end, Salvadori makes getting there good fun. Tautou is delightful (she could get blood coursing through the veins of a marble statue) and Elmaleh, with his wry sense of the essential absurdity of most of the situations in which he finds himself, is the perfect foil.

Priceless is entertaining enough and so well done as not to need a redundant Hollywood remake. Let’s pray Hollywood has the good sense to realise this and not subject us to another crass and redundant Julia Roberts/ Reese Witherspoon/Scarlett Johansson makeover.

Alan Frank

France 2006. UK Distributor: Icon. Colour.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 12 Jun 2008