But here we have "Priceless," which dresses the lovely, pocket-sized starlet Audrey Tautou in the finest fashions, then lets her loose on the Riviera. The whole thing, which opens with a snappy, winking rendition of "It's Cheaper to Keep Her," is meant to stir up fond memories of Audrey Hepburn's frothiest screen efforts, yet everything's gone sour, with characters too wicked to love yet not wicked enough to love to hate; it's a drippy romance between two schemers whose schemes never thrill us.
Tautou is Irène, a gold digger who prowls for the wealthiest men, each one all too eager to provide her with the finest clothes and jewelry, and if nights of unfulfilling lovemaking is the price to pay for her lifestyle, so be it. The film's too classy to use the more vulgar terms for such an arrangement, but there's little charm to her ways. Irène gets what's coming to her when she mistakes the hotel's bumbling barkeep Jean (Gad Elmaleh) for a millionaire, a rouse the unsuspecting Jean is willing to carry out.
It's smart of writers Pierre Salvadori (who also directed) and Benoît Graffin (the duo previously collaborated on "Après Vous") to keep things moving fairly early; rather than make the whole film about the mistaken identity, Irène finds Jean out quickly enough. But what comes next is a series of wrong directions. Irène, unwilling to kick this handsome young guy out of her life (he's a far cry from the old fogeys that fall asleep on her night after night), teaches him how to find his own sugar momma and live a life of luxury. It's a move Jean accepts surprisingly well, considering his meek nature, and it's not long before he's a kept man, romancing a wealthy widow (Marie-Christine Adam).
The movie intends to treat us to a story of lovers kept apart by their own selfishness, and When Oh When Will They Realize Money Can't Buy Love And Learn To Be Happy In The Poor House? But it never clicks. Tautou and Elmalah have nice chemistry, but their characters are lifeless, charmless, one-note. He's a wet noodle who allows her to bankrupt him even after she discovers he's broke; we can't really buy his sudden transformation into studly gigolo. (The script tries to present his pushover nature as being just what the ladies want - the yes man who'll say yes, dear - but it's too far a stretch.) She's a greedy witch without enough personality to make up for her villainy; the sex appeal is easy to understand, but past that, what can she offer Jean? Not much, really.
Salvadori and Graffin can't figure out where to go next, so we wander from wild farce to bittersweet romance, the screenplay trying a little of everything. But the farce isn't funny and the romance isn't captivating. All we get are uninspired scenes in which they sneak around in hotel rooms, or spy on each other from separate balconies, and once they finally decide being poor and in love is better than being rich and out of it, the decision doesn't really feel earned.
Everyone's drop-dead gorgeous, as is the scenery, which helps keep things moving, but not enough. "Priceless" is as shallow as its characters: everything looks fantastic, but there's nothing going on under the shiny surface.
Video & Audio
"Priceless" looks enchanting in this 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that captures the richness of the beachfront scenery. The image is sharp and lush.
The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack keeps most of the action up front, focusing on the dialogue, which comes through clearly. A decent 2.0 mix is also included, as are optional English and Spanish subtitles.
The film's trailer and a batch of previews for other First Look releases are the only extras. Some of the previews also play as the disc loads.
"Priceless" has its charms, but too few of them. Fans of Tautou's light comedies might want to Rent It to check out her solid performance (or, at least, attractive figure), while the disc's barebones presentation should keep even the film's fans away from repeat viewings.