Priceless (Hors de Prix)
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Ever since I saw The Closet (Le Placard) several years ago, I’ve been a huge fan of French comedies. You see, contrary to popular belief, French movies don’t have to be complex and heavy, as The Closet’s Daniel Auteuil—as well as my new French favorite, Gad Elmaleh (The Valet/La Doublure)—are quick to prove.

In Priceless (or Hors de Prix in French), Audrey Tautou stars as Irčne, a beautiful young gold-digger who’s vacationing at a posh resort with her latest victim…er, boyfriend. When her boyfriend turns in early one night, Irčne heads down to the hotel bar, where she meets Jean (Elmaleh), a tuxedoed bartender who’s snoozing his way through a double shift. She mistakes Jean’s uniform for the evening attire of a wealthy young man, and the two have a fling before she heads back to her suite.

Jean is smitten by this mysterious young woman—so when he sees her again the next year, he goes out of his way to get her attention. But when their next encounter results in the end of both her relationship and his employment, Irčne discovers the truth about the tuxedoed (and, sadly, penniless) young man. She hurries off to find another wealthy target—and Jean follows, determined to win her over.

Priceless is yet another lovably light and entertaining French film. Though it builds rather slowly at first, once the story wakes up a bit, it’s an enjoyable romantic comedy that’s both sweet and, at times, outrageously funny.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie stars two irresistibly adorable actors. Elmaleh is like a young Auteuil (both of whom, to compare them to an American actor, remind me of the toned-down Steve Carell from Dan in Real Life). Elmaleh has a unique look that makes him stand out from the typical pretty-boy movie stars—and his facial expressions and near-flawless comic timing make you smile whenever he’s on-screen. He’s not gorgeous—he’s cute—and that makes him easy to love. He’s charming and expressive, and I have a feeling that he could make me fall in love with even the most unlovable of characters. Incidentally, that’s precisely what Tautou manages to do. Irčne is selfish and shallow and pretty much heartless—and that makes her a difficult character to love. But Tautou gives the audience just a hint of the sad, scared little girl who’s just beneath the surface—and you can’t help but hope that, sooner or later, she’ll learn her lesson and change her mind.

Though the story isn’t especially profound or unique, Priceless is nevertheless a delightfully charming French flick that I’d definitely recommend to classy, cultured chicks.

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