French Exit (15)Cast: Imogen Poots, Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Valerie Mahaffey
Author(s): Patrick DeWitt
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Release Date: 02/07/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 110mins
Following the sudden death of her husband Franklin, Manhattan heiress Frances Price braces for insolvency. Thriftier with words and feelings than her husband's fortune, Frances agrees to discreetly sell off her belongings, convert the proceeds to cash and relocate to a vacant Parisian apartment owned by her one true friend. Frances' emotionally stunted son Malcolm terminates an engagement to his bewildered fiancee to accompany his mother and the family cat, Little Frank.
LondonNet Film Review
French Exit (15)
Adapted by Patrick DeWitt from his 2018 novel, French Exit is a bile-slathered tragicomedy of social manners that gifts Michelle Pfeiffer a career-revitalising lead role as an acid-tongued heiress facing financial ruin. Armed with a dizzying array of one-liners that DeWitt’s script polishes to a lustre, the Californian actress delivers a masterclass in withering stares, pursed lips and swingeing insults as the clucking hens of New York high society peck over rumours of her downfall. “I’ve no need of friends in my life… at the moment,” she coldly informs one admirer over the rim of a martini glass…
Pfeiffer’s waspish widow has breathed rarefied air for so long, she feels no compulsion to trade niceties. When a rude waiter delays bringing a bill to take a cigarette break, she registers displeasure by setting alight a tiny vase of flowers on the table. As a woman of dwindling means behaving badly, Pfeiffer endears us to her monstrous creation, especially in the second half of director Azazel Jacobs’ picture when a menagerie of wilfully eccentric supporting characters and curious narrative detours, including a love triangle resolved by an arm wrestle, compete for attention. Ultimately, it’s a social whirl too far but Pfeiffer glides serenely through the devastation and retains composure when the fabric of the film is tearing at the seams.
Following the sudden death of her husband Franklin (Tracy Letts), Manhattan heiress Frances Price (Pfeiffer) discusses her impending insolvency with her financial adviser (Robert Higden). “My plan was to die before the money ran out,” she coolly confides, “but I kept and keep on not dying.” Thriftier with words and feelings than her husband’s fortune, Frances agrees to discreetly sell off her belongings, convert the proceeds to cash and relocate to a vacant Parisian apartment owned by her one true friend, Joan (Susan Coyne).
Frances’ emotionally stunted son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) terminates an engagement to his bewildered fiancee (Imogen Poots) and accompanies his mother and the family cat, Little Frank, on a transatlantic boat crossing to the French capital. The Prices ease into their new life and accept a party invitation from New York transplant Madame Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), who admits to being desperately lonely. Frances’ resistance to Mme Reynard gradually wilts and the heiress expands her inner circle to include a private detective (Isaach de Bankole) and psychic medium (Danielle Macdonald), who can communicate with Frank’s spirit housed inside the cat.
French Exit savours every moment that Pfeiffer slinks on screen, elegantly navigating her character’s misfortunes with screwball flourishes. Hedges is a likable foil as the aimless scion, who barely knew his mother before he was 12. Director Jacobs follows the recipe of Mme Reynard’s cassoulet, slow-cooking fine ingredients and garnishing with sprigs of satire.
– Sarah Lee
UK and Irish Cinemas Showing French Exit
From: Friday 23rd July
To: Thursday 29th July
From: Friday 30th July
To: Thursday 5th August