However, in this film, she plays a coquettish gold digger on the French Riviera. Her preference is for way older men (old enough to be her grandfather, and in her hopes, close to death) who spend lavishly on her, especially on high priced designer clothes. When her geriatric lover falls asleep, she slips down to the hotel bar in hopes of meeting a dashing gentleman closer to her age for a little birthday affair. That's when she meets an unsophisticated bar tender and assumes that he's a wealthy patron of the hotel, which he only happily obliges.
It's painful to watch as she takes advantage of him for all he's worth. Hilarious, but painful. Had the movie continued on that track, I would've been bored with it, but there comes a vital twist that completely saved the movie for me and put it on a different track which kept me interested all the way through the end.
At first, I didn't like seeing my beloved Audrey playing such a shallow materialistic woman who pushes away true love in favor of the lavish lifestyle her older suitors provide. But this being Audrey, she does soften into the sweet lady I suspect of her (is she an actress or is she playing herself? My favourite role of hers remains "God is Great...and I'm Not" in which she plays a spiritual seeker who has a tendency to get more into her boyfriend's religion than he's interested in).
The part of the film that truly floored me was when her old suitor desires to get to know more about her and asks personal questions, like where she's from originally. When she said, "Saint Brieuc" I about fell out of my chair! I had never heard of that town in the region of Bretagne (Brittany) until a French submarine chief I became friends with in 1992 invited me to spend a weekend at his home to meet his wife and infant daughter. Brittany had never been on my list of places to visit in France, but that's what friendships do. My visit means I see a part of the country I never expected to and I loved it. Partly because there were few Americans who traveled to that town in France. He actually lives in a small town (Plerin) outside of Saint Brieuc, where the TGV Atlantique stops.
It also reminded me of when I read Jack Kerouac's "Satori in Paris" in 2001 and was shocked to read that Kerouac had an argument with a French person about the proper pronunciation of "Saint Brieuc" (do you pronounce the "c" at the end or not? French grammar is like that). I had the same argument with my French friend!
Man, of all the towns in France for Audrey's character to be from, I'm in awe that the screenwriters made it Saint Brieuc. It's not a town you'd ever visit if you had only a week or two weeks or even a month to spend in France. I'm glad to know people who live in places I'd never go to on my own initiative, because you get to make cool discoveries by venturing off the unbeaten path. It's a nice town, made even more pleasant to visit by the lack of "ugly American tourists." I've been there in 1992, 1994, and 1997. I'm due for another visit.
When I walked away from the theaters after being charmed by this sweet French film, I also felt a pang in my heart. I've been wanting to visit France again since 1998 during the World Cup games. I don't know when I'll make it back, but I keep hoping someday soon. And even more than that...I wish I could meet Audrey Tautou or even someone like her. She is my ideal of what I find most attractive in a woman. She's someone I would feel comfortable around (not everyone finds her beautiful, she's quirky, she's not interested in a big Hollywood career and won't relocate from Paris, and she values intelligent conversations--just a few tidbits I've learned about her). If I can't meet her, I know that there are women out there who have similar qualities as her.
La femme de mes reves...la belle Audrey Tautou.
If you want to see a film that reflects the tension between a materialistic life without true love versus a life with someone you love who lacks money or a prestigious career, this is the one to see. You'll leave the theater feeling good about life. I know I did. Now, when can I get a ticket for a flight to France to search for my future wife?