Due to financial incapacity after her husband’s death, aging socialite Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer) is forced to move out of her luxurious Manhattan apartment and into a small, empty flat in Paris with her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and their pet cat. As they try to rebuild their lives, they meet a plethora of colorful characters: the lonely Mme. Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), psychic Madeleine (Danielle Macdonald), and private detective Julius (Isaach De Bankolé). This movie, based on Patrick DeWitt’s novel of the same name, is directed by Azazel Jacobs.~Jinko Labitag
A charming, cozy picture about existentialism and despair.
Azazel Jacobs’ indie comedy-drama French Exit (2021) is deliriously funny with a dry wit and dark sense of humor. Jacobs’ direction has a warm atmosphere with the gorgeous backdrop of Paris, France in the Fall. Jacobs has real heart and whimsy to his strikingly raw indie style. All the drama feels sincere and moving, while his comedy portions are just delightfully weird. It’s always refreshing when a strange new director appears.
Michelle Pfeiffer is as gorgeous as she ever was in French Exit as the fiery redhead heiress Frances Price, who has just lost all her wealth. Pfeiffer is hilarious and playful as this mean lady, to the point of being cruel at times, as she insults herself into what she wants. I like how effortless Pfeiffer feels when she’s sour and suicidal as this devastated rich lady trying to figure out her life. Michelle Pfeiffer remains one of the greatest actresses of all time and a personal favorite of mine.
She’s touching as she attempts to start her life over and reconnect with her estranged son Malcolm Price, played by the forlorn and conflicted Lucas Hedges. He plays his part quietly and with a nice comedic chemistry with Pfeiffer. His dramatic scenes with her are so raw and from the heart. I appreciate Lucas Hedges taking on challenging roles like Manchester by the Sea or Lady Bird.
I adore Imogen Poots as Malcolm’s fiance frustrated and emotionally confused Susan. You understand how Susan feels about loving Malcolm, but feeling furious that he cannot find the courage to tell his controlling mother about their proposed marriage. Poots’ endearing face finds all the verisimilitude of a young lady choosing her life’s love. I find Imogen Poots breathtakingly beautiful and an absolute charming presence on screen. She’s wonderful in French Exit just as she was in V for Vendetta, 28 Weeks Later, The Art of Self-Defense, and The Father. Imogen Poots is one of the brightest actresses of her generation and a real talent to continue watching.
Valerie Mahaffey has a sweet supporting role as the desperately unhappy Madame Reynard, who is in dire need of friends. Her sudden bursts of whimsical dialogue is a riot to hear. Isaach De Bankole is wonderfully fun as the serious and succinct French private detective Julius, who is down for whatever. Susan Coyne is nice as Pfeiffer’s helpful friend Joan. Daniel DiTomasso is easy to hate as Susan’s new boyfriend Tom with his toxic masculinity and insecure manhood. He’s such a jerk. Danielle Macdonald is funny as the blunt Madeleine the Medium. Tracy Lett’s flippant voice work is excellent as the cat Small Frank.
Tobias Datum’s cinematography has this cute centered framing, lovely close-ups of dejected faces, and a beautiful wide shot array of scenic Paris. Hilda Rasula’s brisk editing cuts through each scene without lingering too long on the pain. We get to the jokes fast, while maintaining a serious tone for all the drama. French Exit is a fast 113 minutes.
Jean-Andre Carriere’s production design is quaint and charming with lavish home sets. Joëlle Péloquin’s set decoration is very cozy with pretty furnishings. Nicholas DeWitt’s score has melodic piano passages that just elevate the fun vibe of French Exit. The wistful dramatic portions fit the more whimsical piano tracks. Jane Petrie’s fashionable costumes are stunning.
Patrick DeWitt’s writing is thoughtful about how we find meaning in life whether it’s love, family, or friendship that gives us satisfaction. It’s quite fun how DeWitt’s script is full of black comedy moments around poverty, depression, or suicide. French Exit makes you feel like you can continue on with life’s miseries and setbacks with a little help from friends, family, or a lover.
Furthermore, DeWitt’s words feel profound and straightforward enough to feel helpful, while surreal and absurd with his comedic writing so that the message is obscured enough to remain meaningful. French Exit is not obvious with its genuine, heartfelt themes, while always feeling silly and playful at heart.
I would recommend this to a friend
Rated 5 out of 5 stars
Michelle Pfeiffer is wonderful as always!
Owned for 3 weeks when reviewed.
Michelle Pfeiffer is wonderful as always! A great comedic film.