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Priceless (Hors de Prix)(9/10)

by Tony Medley

Running Time: 113 Minutes.

People who only go to see American films, or who eschew foreign films because they don’t like subtitles, are missing the best in film. For my money, there is no comparison between this little Dutch gem and four of the five films that were nominated for the Academy Award in 2007.

Irčne (Audrey Tautou) is a beautiful woman of no talent other than seducing older rich men. She meets a bartender, Jean (Gad Elmaleh), but mistakes him for a rich man, an impression he takes pains to reinforce. She beds him (or him her), resulting in disaster in her relationship with Jacques (Vernon Dobtcheff), who was ready to marry her.

Thus begins one of the more unusual love stories you will see. Tautou gives a good performance as the manipulative beauty who sees her life undone by love, but Elmaleh steals the show as the lovesick puppy who gives up everything for his quest of Irčne and won’t take “no” for an answer. This is another sparkling performance by Elmaleh, an actor I last saw in 2006’s “The Valet,” a film that had a fate to which this is unfortunately probably inevitably destined, a wonderful film that few will see.

Adding to the fun of the script (Benoît Graffin and Pierre Salvatori), directing (Salvatori) and the acting is the locale. The film was shot on location on the Cote d’Azur and the cinematography (Gilles Henry) takes full advantage of the romantic locale.

This is a priceless gem, a certainty to be on my list of most enjoyable films of 2008. In French.

 

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