DVD review: “French Exit” (2020)

“French Exit” (2020)


Running Time: 110 minutes

Written by: Patrick deWitt based on his novel

Directed by: Azazel Jacobs

Featuring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Valerie Mahaffey, Imogen Poots, Susan Coyne, Danielle Macdonald, Isaach de Bankolé and Tracy Letts

Frances Price: “My plan was to die before the money ran out.”

Released recently on DVD is the drama “French Exit” (2020) which sees a broke New York socialite and her son navigate her way to Paris and all the interactions she has from one place to another. This is a movie that also has other elements within it besides being a drama, it has comedy and melodrama which is very well handled by writer and director. 

In this film a bank seizes all the property of Manhattan heiress Frances Price several years after her husband’s death. The close-to-penniless widow and her son, Malcolm, are left with few options. They sell everything in their house and relocate to a small apartment in Paris owned by Frances’ friend, with the family cat, who happens to be Frances’ reincarnated husband.

With a leading performance by star Michelle Pfeiffer who at this stage of her career is an expert at almost anything thrown at her and like the other actors of her generation can alter the characters she portrays in ways that mean she juggle multiple emotions even within the same scene. The other part of Pfeiffer’s performance is her beauty which has not dimmed with her age, like past roles she knows how to use it in terms of playing her parts without seeming disingenuous in the slightest. Even when the film as a whole grows a little ungainly, as it fills up with supporting characters who feel more like one-note ideas than actual people, Pfeiffer’s steely presence anchors the proceedings

“French Exit” has been directed by Azazel Jacobs and written by Patrick deWitt, based on his own book, this is their second collaboration after the film “Terri” (2011) about a bullied teen. This is a more nuanced film than their previous one it is a juggling act for both and at times can be a little top heavy in terms of characters but possibly light on plot. However the idea is to follow the main character who seems trapped within her own past, as well as her own geographic location. 

Ultimately, “French Exit” is not put together in the best way but it has been designed as a showcase for Michelle Pfeiffer to show what she can still do, is it enough to carry the entire movie? Almost.


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