French Exit movie poster
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French Exit
French Exit movie poster

French Exit Movie Review

I watched French Exit over the course of two nights, and what a difference a night makes. The first night, and the first half, the new Michelle Pfeiffer proved to be a surprisingly entertaining and off-kilter affair, splashed with dry humor and cold ferocity by the revered actress. The second night, and the second half, was a miserable experience.

The plot is seemingly simple: Pfeiffer plays Frances Price, a New York socialite who discovers she has no more money to pay for her luxurious lifestyle. She reluctantly takes up a friend’s offer to stay in her flat in Paris, along with her grown son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges).

Oh, and their cat is possessed by her late husband.

Not kidding.

At first, director Azazel Jacobs and writer Patrick DeWitt, working from the book by Patrick DeWitt, have everything in rhythm. Pfeiffer is wickedly on her game, basically acting out of the side of her mischievous smirk. The humor is nuanced but sly, the screenplay sharp and pointed.

But then, suddenly, French Exit loses its way, its cleverness and appeal evaporating like so much French wine. It all has something to do with the possessed cat, something I didn’t think the movie would take literally until, you know, Frances starts to hold seances with the damn animal and it starts talking back to her with a man’s voice.

There’s really nothing more that needs to be said.

The first half of French Exit had no right being as good as it was, while the second half was much more dreadful than anyone could predict. Michelle Pfeiffer gives it her all, but this wasn’t the material she should have invested in.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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