Priceless (Hors de Prix—French) (2006)

Rated: PG-13 for sexual content including nudity.
Length: 104 minutes
Grade: B+CB+A=A-
Budget: 11.7 million Euros ($16.7 million)
Box Office: $28 million (2 U.S., 26 Intl.)

Written by: Pierre Salvadori and Benoit Graffin
Directed by: Pierre Salvadori
Starring: Audrey Tatou, Gad Lemaleh, Vernon Dobtcheff, and Annelise Hesme.

When a beautiful golddigger mistakes a bartender for a millionaire, she falls for him and loses her current wealthy find. But she discovers the truth and now must start over finding an entirely new sugar daddy. He pursues her, and she lets him squander everything he has on her until he allows himself to be turned into a lust toy just to stay near her.

Entertainment Value: B+
I know it sounds absurd and racy, but it’s really a gem of a movie with amazingly deep Christian themes. In French with subtitles, this is a little gem of a movie with plenty of chuckle-inducing wit and plot intrigue, and without (mostly) explicit content, which is usually inferred rather than shown.

Superficial Content: C
Drugs/Alcohol C, Sex/Nudity C, Violence A, Language C, Illegal Activity A
The movie is all about men and women allowing themselves to be used sexually in exchange for lavish living. There are sexual scenes, but seductive clothing is much more an issue than actual nudity, which is very brief. There is some strong language, but it’s in subtitles, which makes it less potent. Also, I’m not sure the movie could have been authentic without the content it did have. Definitely PG-13 is the right rating.

Significant Content: B+
The positive themes here are A+ themes, quite frankly, but the negative is that if you miss the real importance of the movie, all you’ve got here is another sex-filled comedy romance. So, the prevalence of disordered (non-marital) sexual behavior is the thing that keeps me from giving it an A. Okay. I’m going to try to write the rest of this without giving too much of the plot away, but I can’t promise that I’ll succeed. So, here are the good themes. Charm is more important than beauty. Love will cost you everything you need to lose. A true love will sacrifice everything, including his own dignity, in order to have just a chance of getting what he wants more than anything else.
Artistic/Thought Value: A
This is exactly what the very best sort of art strives to be: a message of profound significance hidden every-so-carefully within a story that is charming and entertaining enough to satisfy those who aren’t looking for anything deep but not so carefully that they still might not find it. They key is that the real messages here are not obvious, but enticing.

Discussion Questions:
~Why does Irene buy Jean a ticket? What does this tell us about her?
~What if the plot of this movie had ended after 45 minutes?
~What draws Irene to John to him, in spite of the dangers? How is this like what draws us to Jesus? Why is sacrifice so sexy?
~In what ways did Jean behave for Irene like Jesus behaved for us, the Church? Did Jesus allow Himself to become sullied in any way?
~Christianity is all about a bunch of people who desire what they think they need gradually learning that nothing they ever wanted really matters once they find the one thing they really do need. How is this message conveyed in this movie? Who learns it?
~Irene tells Jean that he might as well take as much as he can, otherwise what’s it for? How is this the exact opposite of love, but the logical consequence of being in a relationship for selfish reasons?
~Who in this movie is noble? Who is selfish? Who is selfish but wanting to seem noble?
~What does the watch symbolize? What do you think of his behavior with the watch?
~How does the parable of the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46) serve as the idea behind this movie?
~Do you think the makers of this movie intended this to be a Gospel movie?
~Is Jean rational? Is love rational? How much of the justification for his behavior depends on how the movie turns out? What if it had turned out otherwise, would it still have been worth it?
~If this had been an American film, Jean would have secretly been a millionaire when it was all over. How would this difference have ruined both the charm and also the meaning of this movie?
~“Charm is more powerful than beauty. You can resist beauty, but not charm.” What do you think of this claim?
Overall Grade: A-
Particularly because of the deep themes and Christian parallels, I really enjoyed this clever little movie, even if you have to watch it with subtitles.

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