French Exit: Review

Malcolm Price (Lucas Hedges) is devoted to his mother. However, rich socialite Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer) is self-absorbed, grieving for her dead husband and is on the verge of bankruptcy. Realising that she’s going to have to downsize, Frances’ friend, Joan (Susan Coyne) tells her about her place in Paris that she’s not living in currently.

So, without a moment’s notice, Frances drags Malcolm to Europe where she feels she can finally be at peace. The trouble is that although Frances may be happy in Paris, Malcolm is leaving behind his fiancé, Susan (Imogen Poots).

French Exit is a quirky comedy which often verges on the bizarre as more characters are added to the cast. Whilst on the boat Lucas becomes acquainted with Madeleine (Danielle Macdonald) a woman who claims that she’s psychic. Then when they get to Paris, Frances is invited to tea with Mme. Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), a widower who’s having trouble dealing with being alone and isn’t exactly a match what with Frances’ rather abrupt and rude behaviour.

However, the issue with French Exit is really what it all means and why anybody does anything. For all its quirkiness, things happen and people say things that they may not normally say if it weren’t scripted in such a way.

What seems to be a film that’s dealing with a woman’s grief turns into a romantic comedy where characters appear for no good reason and interact in ways that may be amusing, if the audience knew what it was all about.

Michelle Pfeiffer is the lynch pin of the film though and she effortlessly slips into the role where her snippy and single-minded character takes over. In fact, there are many great performances from Mahaffey as the unusually haunted lonely widower to the disembodied voice of Frances’ long-lost husband (Tracy Letts), but the film lacks any clear direction.

This may give the audience a challenge as they try to figure out the motivations of the characters, perhaps implanting theories of their own. However, to the rest of the audience they may feel that although the film is well acted with funny moments, it doesn’t really go anywhere.


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