Audrey Tautou’s exotic visage is enough to melt the most discerning of men, let alone the haplessly smitten Frenchmen that populate Pierre Salvador’s Priceless, a frothy update of Breakfast at Tiffany’s set amid lush, upscale hotels in the south of France.
Tautou is Irene, a ruthless, cold-hearted gold digger who sees men as little more than walking dollar signs. She spends her days buying designer clothes and her nights indulging in extravagant dinners, all with the aide of her suitor-of-the-moment’s credit card.
Irene’s whole existence is designed to lure the richest guy possible — in this case a balding sixtysomething who seems aware of her vacuous nature but can’t help but be swayed by her charms. Yet when he finally unveils a long-awaited engagement ring, she can’t help but be swayed by the possibility of a bigger prize.
Enter Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a hotel waiter Irene confuses for a younger, possibly more lucrative, version of her current catch. Jean is instantly, deeply smitten, choosing to go along for the ride as long as he can, altering his meager bank account and modest lifestyle in the process. The screenplay by Salvadori and Benoit Graffin is interested in issues of class, but the commentary is so tame that the endless parade of extravagance comes off more like a French version of Sex and the City than anything remotely satirical. Only when Irene hits bottom — when the desperation of depending on others for sustenance becomes acute — does Priceless come close to yielding genuine emotion, which I suppose is the point. Grade: B-
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