Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Priceless (2006 film)

Directed by Pierre Salvadori and written by Salvadori and Benoit Graffin, Hors de prix (Priceless) is the story of a gold-digger who mistakes a hotel waiter for a millionaire as she later teaches him how to win the heart of rich women to pay off their money troubles. The film is a comedy inspired by the films of Blake Edwards that involves all sorts of wacky circumstances where a woman suddenly finds love in the strangest ways. Starring Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh, and Marie-Christine Adam. Hors de prix is a charming and witty romantic comedy from Pierre Salvadori.

The film is essentially a romantic comedy revolving around this beautiful gold-digging woman who has a one-night stand with a hotel waiter/bartender only to meet him a year later at the same hotel as she was just dumped by her lover while he loses his job. When the two are in Nice, the woman shows this man how to charm a rich lady into giving him things while she does the same to another rich man. Of course, in the schematics of what is expected in a romantic comedy. Things get complicated when this woman named Irene (Audrey Tautou) suddenly has feelings for this man named Jean (Gad Elmaleh) as she wonders whether to stick to her game plan or go for true love.

The film’s screenplay does play to the formulas that are typical of the genre but what makes it more unique are the characters of Irene and Jean. The former is a woman who loves to live a very posh lifestyle with expensive shoes and dresses. The latter is a man who is mistaken for being a millionaire on this one particular night only to be intrigued by what Irene does after losing his job. When he catches the attention of old yet rich widow (Marie-Christine Adam) who buys him things. He turns to Irene for help as she teaches him how to win over a woman where he does things that turn out to be amazing while she is trying to do the same to another rich man. Of course, something does happen that will get the two to come together but it is done in circumstances that is a mixture of humor and in big character developments.

Pierre Salvadori’s direction is quite straightforward in terms of its framing and the way he presents the French Riviera. While some of the framing goes for simple yet gorgeous shots, Salvadori’s approach to comedy is quite subtle at times but also isn’t afraid to go into a bit of slapstick. Notably in scenes where Irene would see Jean sporting a newly-expensive watch where he only shows it off to her with such finesse as the camera captures her reaction in the best timing. Salvadori brings a lot of wit to the way he presents the comedy as well as some more low-key moments that play up to the film’s romance. While there are a few moments where the shots are a bit out of focus at times, Salvadori does manage to create something that is engaging but also entertaining as the result is a wonderful romantic comedy.

Cinematographer Gilles Henry does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography as it is filled with wonderful shots of the film‘s exterior setting as well as some wonderful lighting schemes for some of the film‘s interior scenes. Editor Isabelle Devinick does nice work with the editing by going for a very straightforward style while using rhythmic cuts for some of the film‘s comical moments. Production designer Yves Fournier does fantastic work with some of the look of the hotel suits that Irene and Jean stay in to play up the world they live in. Costume designer Virginie Montel does amazing work with the costumes from the suits that Jean wears to the designer dresses that Irene wears along with her casual clothes.

Sound editor Jean-Christophe Winding does terrific work with the sound to capture the atmosphere of some of the party scenes as well as the intimate moments in some of the film‘s exterior scenes. The film’s music by Camille Bazbaz is true delight for its playful jazz-like score to complement the film’s humor while its music soundtrack features a mix of dance music and reggae.

The casting by Alain Charbit is superb as it features some noteworthy performances from Jacques Spiesser as Irene’s catch in Nice named Gilles, Vernon Dobtcheff as Irene’s former catch in Jacques, Annelise Hesme as Jacques’s new girlfriend Agnes who appears late in the film, and Marie-Christine Adam in a brilliant performance as Jean’s catch in Madeleine who is intrigued by Jean’s kind persona.

Finally, there’s the duo of Gad Elmaleh and Audrey Tautou as they both give fantastic performances in their respective roles as Jean and Irene. Elmaleh brings a wonderful sensitivity to his character as a man who doesn’t feel appreciated while wanting to get the good things as he also shows a lot of humor into his role that is inspired by Buster Keaton. Tautou has an air of radiance and sensuality as this gold-digger who knows how to seduce a man while also displaying some humility whenever things don’t work out for her. Elmaleh and Tautou have amazing scenes together in the way they interact but also bring charm to their performances.

Hors de prix is an excellent film from Pierre Salvadori that features top-notch performances from Audrey Tautou and Gad Elmaleh. The film is definitely one of the more engaging romantic-comedies where it does play to formula but create characters that are far more interesting than what is expected in the genre. It’s also a film that is also very funny in the way two people try to woo the rich with charm and wit. In the end, Hors de prix is a marvelous film from Pierre Salvadori.

© thevoid99 2013


SDG said...

I love this movie. This is not a masterpiece or anything and I know this but its a fun movie elevated by the two lead characters, as you said. Glad to find someone else with the same opinion.

Anonymous said...

A big bundle of fun is how I'd describe this film. So very amusing and frothy. Plus the lovely Audrey Tautou at her best.

thevoid99 said...

@SDG-Some films don't need to be masterpieces. Just light-hearted fun as this is a film that people should see when they're dating.

@vinnieh-Agreed. I love Audrey Tautou as I'm wondering what has happened to her as I recall she's kind in a slump when she decided to cut her hair.