Hors De Prix is the second film I saw from the GSC French Film Festival, after the heart-wrenching La Mome (La Vie en Rose). I've always wanted to catch this film since reading Sebastian's rave review on his blog last month, besides, it's already not much of a secret that I'm a sucker for romantic comedies anyway. So, after getting Sebastian's confirmation that it's a good date movie (as long as the female companion does not feel insecure and tiny about the fact that the pretty Audrey Tautou's boobs are always threatening to pop out from the fashionable dresses she's wearing in the film), I invited a lovely lady friend to see the movie with me.
(Random, but here's Mingle2's list of ten worst movies to watch during the a first date, and Cinematical's seven films NOT to watch during Valentine's)
HORS DE PRIX is about a gold digging, scheming 'adventuress' Irene (Audrey Tautou) who mistakenly woos a mild-mannered hotel waiter Jean (Gad Elmaleh) thinking that he's a rich suitor due to some wacky circumstances. When she discovers his lowly status, Irene runs off (hoping to find another sugar daddy). But love-struck Jean has no intention of letting her escape, and pursues her to the Cote d'Azur. Quickly running out of money in his attempt to win her heart, he adopts his beloved's lifestyle... by setting himself up as a gigolo for a wealthy widow (Marie-Christine Adam). Irene at last accepts this new Jean (since both of them have become equals, working in the same... er, industry or something). She starts to give him advice (in making the best out of his situation), the cynical seductress grows closer and closer to him, not realizing that she's finding true love in a world of superficial wealth.
Typical lighthearted rom-com stuff. A review on today's Sin Chew Daily called this film the least 'French' film of the French Film Festival, saying that it feels more Hollywood than French. (Of course, Sebastian would disagree, saying that Hollywood hasn't been making screwball comedies like this without resorting to cheap toilet gags and gross-out humour.) Its Hollywood influences aren't surprising, since director Pierre Salvadori has stated in a Q & A session (according to Sebastian) that he fell in love with cinema because of Hollywood comedies during the 30s and 40s.
This film is pretty entertaining and funny, the nice acting from both leads make you care for the characters, and make you want to see them together. Elmaleh's Jean is someone you can laugh and sympathize with, from his attempts to pose as a suave millionaire early in the movie to his antics to please the wealthy widow, and also all the nice and 'awww'-inducing sweet little things he does for his beloved. Audrey Tautou's materialisic and gold-digging Irene can easily be a character you are repulsed with, but since she's Audrey Tautou, a simple look of guilt and uncertainty can sort of make an audience member forgive the fact that her high-spending ways have bankrupted Jean, (indirectly) forcing him into a gigolo, and despite what he had done for her, she still entertained thoughts of returning to a sugar daddy.
So this Audrey Tautou is NOT the Audrey Tautou I'm used to watching in AMELIE and THE DA VINCI CODE, and while she does look really pretty and elegant in this role, and as usual, put up a good performance... I wonder what the movie would've been like if (a younger) MONICA BELLUCCI had played her role instead.
... I think my mind would explode. (or it might just destroy my mind like the nonsensical 'Combien tu m'aimes?' (How Much Do You Love Me?) did).
Verdict? It's a nice and entertaining date movie. If you want to watch something less challenging in the French Film Festival (which will end this Sunday), this might be it. At least the lady friend enjoyed it a lot.
Hors De Prix (Priceless) trailer