When a film starts off with a similar plot to the Jennifer Lopez “hit” Maid in Manhattan, you have to worry. Hilarious misunderstanding involving rich person mistaking servant pleb for hot money totty. Oooo. Will the rich one overcome their love of money and learn to live with dating a pauper? Do bears shit on the pope?
That’s how the saying goes, right?
Anyway, so went my thoughts as Priceless began, with Audrey Tautou’s posh Irene sparking against Gad Elmaleh’s poor Jean. Yawn. But the film quickly takes a turn for the better, Irene simply milking older rich folk for nice gifts and Jean quickly following suit, turning it into a competition to see who can get the best pressies rather than a simple case of I’m not really rich, you lied to me, I’m sad, I’ll love you anyway, here’s a nice dress to wear.
The film bubbles with amusing banter and simmers with sexy sex (it’s very French), the co-stars trying to outdo each other on who can look the sexiest. Tautou slinks around in tiny dresses and pouts, while Elmaleh gradually gains an air of Bond with sharp suits and sultry eyes. At times it’s a little like watching Sex & the City, with tracking shots of Tauto’s dresses and enough brand name-checks to sink a sold-out ship.
But through all its sexy style Priceless lacks a beating heart, Jean’s “love” for Irene seemingly driven only by his pants as she is shown to have no redeeming characteristics whatsoever, save jealousy, greed and the ability to manipulate. It’s easy to see why she could fall for him as he makes thoughtful gestures and the like, but it seems all a woman has to do is put on a great dress and have done with it. Actually, why am I complaining? Seems like we get the better deal.
This lack of depth makes their relationship purely cosmetic, a vacuous excuse to feature nice dresses in nice hotels, the question of whether they’ll be together in the end giving an answer that is both obvious and unbelievable (no real jobs, no money – and you’re going to do what?) Rather than an aw bless rom-com with a snappy edge, Priceless falls into a saxophone-sound-tracked farce that passes the time fair enough, but only in a similar way to eating a French Fancy, which wouldn’t take up as much time. Unless you eat really slowly, or happen to have found a giant version of the cake, which would be pretty cool to be honest. The film only just scrapes a CF0, and only really because I quite fancied Gad Elmaleh, and because it gave me chance to think about a massive cake. I’m that easily pleased.