Priceless (2006)

Audrey Tautou, Gad Elmaleh

Dir. Pierre Salvadori

Tautou is a gold digger on the French Riviera, Elmaleh a waiter in a top class hotel. A deserted bar and an abandoned tie leads to confusion and Tautou thinks she’s found her next sugar daddy. Except Elmaleh is no sugar daddy.

Priceless is an exercise in opportunism as Elmaleh’s hapless character is drained of his savings by Tautou, hell bent on financial revenge. Eventually, she relents and starts to teach Elmaleh the ins and outs of exploitation. Elmaleh has attracted the attention of an older widow and doesn’t want her money, but he’s soon saying all the right things and pocketing the watches and the suits and the scooter. Pocketing in the metaphorical sense, of course.

pricelessPriceless is a gorgeous looking film, set in the glittery, spangley make believe world that stretches across the coast of southern France from St. Tropez to Nice. Nothing is too shiny, too slick, too expensive, too out of reach. Money, if you have it, can buy you anything. Tautou knows it and wants it, Elmaleh knows it, but turns his nose up.

Salvadori has created a film that mixes humour with serious set pieces, disorientating this viewer who wanted to laugh, but couldn’t. There was a serious message in here, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Money can’t buy you everything, not even on the Riviera? It couldn’t buy Elmaleh’s affection. What the message was probably saying was that wealth buys you loyalty, but loyalty dries up when the money stops. Ask any dictator. Love is unconditional.

Struth, listen to me, I sound like Richard Curtis. Where’s the sick bag?

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