Eighty-odd movies to choose from, including Oscar winners, multi-starrers and the like. And what do I pick? A nice little little French rom-com called Hors de prix. That it stars Audrey Tautou might make things easier to understand.
This, however, is no Amelie. Tautou stars as a high-class hooker Irene (I’ve seen the term adventuress used in some blurbs, but I’m not sure what that means) who mistakes Jean (Gad Elmaleh), a waiter at the hotel she’s staying it, for a millionaire. She walks away when she learns that he isn’t, but he’s fallen in love with her and goes after her. Through a series of incidents, he becomes a gigolo, and she trains him in the art of milking his sugar-mommy (does that term exist already? Or do we not discuss gigolos enough for it to have been coined?) to the maximum. That she will end up falling in love with him but would take her time to admit it to herself goes without saying. If it feels vaguely familiar but not quite, think Breakfast at Tiffany’s (the movie, not the book). In all, a predictable but delightful movie.
One interesting difference from the standard rom-coms you get from Hollywood is the sex. Which is to say that there’s quite a bit of it, and not just between the leads. Most rom-coms would’ve found a way of ensuring that the leads don’t sleep with anyone else after they’ve slept with each other. Not this one. Irene even gives Jean seduction tips. I’m not sure if this is because of the “professions” they are in, or because this is a French movie. Maybe a bit of both. Is it just in the movies, or do the French really have this very matter-of-fact way of dealing with sex?
Strangely enough, for the most part, Hors de prix plays like a standard Bollywood movie. Consider this scene: after Irene has discovered Jean’s deception and left him, he pursues her and asks her to spend a day with him. She warns him that he cannot afford her, but he replies that it’s his problem to solve, not hers. To finance her shopping spree (as far as I could discern, in the entire movie, when she’s not earning her keep, she’s spending it), he blows up pretty much every cent he has. When she realizes that he’s broke, she says goodbye, but he stops her, pulls out a 1 Euro coin from his pocket and says, “10 more seconds?” They gaze at each other for 10 seconds, he with a little smile on his face, she with an expression that suggests that she’s falling for this guy but Absolutely Doesn’t Want To. Then she says goodbye. Two things occurred to me when I saw this scene:
- Nicely done!
- This is the sort of scene SRK dines out on.
I strongly suspect that , in the fullness of time, a version of this movie would appear in Bollywood. Whether or not it would jump through all sorts of hoops trying to evade the sex is the 1 Euro question.