French Exit, surreal and bizarre

Michelle Pfeiffer in French Exit

French Exit is a surreal and odd film about strange and bizarre people. It stars Michelle Pfeiffer, which is reason enough to watch it. However, it’s not like anything you’ve ever seen before and may not strike you as wonderful. It’s streaming on Prime and in several other places.

French Exit felt to me like a group of Hollywood friends got together out of boredom or frustration with 2020. Maybe they had a few drinks. They decided to just have fun doing a weirdly beautiful movie. They wanted to play and this is the odd little game that was available to play. This scenario is entirely my own but it feels like a bunch of actors wanted desperately to act so they did this funny thing together.

Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer), dressed in fashionable clothes and always holding a cigarette, is a widow. Until her husband died several years ago she had nothing to do with her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges). Now she keeps him around like a puppy.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges in French Exit

Frances also has a cat she claims is possessed with the soul of her dead husband.

Frances burned through her entire fortune in mere years. Now she’s forced to sell everything she owns for some cash. Her friend Joan (Susan Coyne) offers her the use of her Paris apartment. Frances, Malcolm, and the cat head for France.

Frances would literally rather die than figure out how to handle money and act like a normal adult. Malcolm is no better. He claims to be engaged to Susan (Imogen Poots) but doesn’t have the courage to tell his mother about her.

Lucas Hedges and Danielle Macdonald in French Exit

On the ship crossing the Atlantic, Malcolm has a one-night stand with Madeleine the Medium (Danielle Macdonald). She comes in handy later when a seance is needed.

They didn’t fly to France, they went by boat. The film was set in modern times but there were no cell phones in sight (they used phone booths) and Frances wrote post cards. It was an old tale in a modern wrapper.

Mme Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey) befriends Frances. Soon Mme Reynard, Madeleine the Medium, a private detective, the apartment owner Joan, and secret girlfriend Susan with her current beau are all crammed into the apartment. They hold seances with a missing cat. (Tracy Letts does the voice of the cat/Frank.)

Frances gives her money to strangers sleeping on park benches rather than use it to help Malcolm. She wants to get rid of it all before she dies. And she thinks she’s dying.

The dialog is stilted. Michelle Pfeiffer is brilliantly cold and unfeeling – until she isn’t. The cast is delicious even though the characters are underdeveloped. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times, it was so ridiculous.

Here’s the trailer. See if it looks interesting to you.

What do you think? Will you give this oddball movie a look?

Author: Virginia DeBolt

After many years as an educator and writer, Virginia retired from working life. She's always loved a good movie or TV show and wants to use her free time to talk about them with you now. She's Old Ain't Dead!

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