French Exit Review – Bewitching with Captivating Character Driven Performances

French Exit, from Sony Pictures Classic, brings to the screen a charming and oddly quirky story of a former ultra-wealthy socialite who after years of caution, to curb her compulsive and extravagant spending, finds herself insolvent.

The film begins with a young and carefree Frances Price, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, has arrived at her son's boarding school to remove him permanently. The film fast forwards to modern day, and her now grown son Malcolm, played by Lucas Hedges, is engaged to marry, Susan, played by Imogen Poots. The two are equally odd, sharing a bizarre removed from reality existence.

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The bad news arrives rather quickly for Frances. She is insolvent, and the townhouse and all its contents, are all the money she possesses. Repeated warnings of fiscal thrift for seven years and stern warnings for three went unheeded.

A single friend is all our once darling of Manhattan's society pages has left. Over coffee Joan, played by Susan Coyne, explains the "hens are clucking." The news of Frances' fall from her affluent pedestal have caused the jealous to celebrate. Joan, a friend to the end, offers her and Malcolm her apartment in Paris.

Taking a cruise ship to Paris, the two along with their mercurial black cat, Small Frank, named after her dead husband, Frank Price met up with a gypsy, an American fortune teller, played by Danielle Macdonald.

Life begins anew in Paris or so it seems. They reckon with their pasts and plan for an impossible future, all while their social circle expands in unexpected and increasingly absurdist ways.

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The French are expectedly rude, and Frances who has no concern about impressions is triumphantly rude in return. She is occasionally checked by her son, who when her behavior exceeds the tolerable limits, pointedly provides a reminder.

Never needing to exercise financial management, the idea that her life savings are limited, is still a foreign concept. Her lifestyle in Paris is noted, as she continues to be overly generous and leaving extravagant tips.

Life takes a sharp turn, as Little Frank runs away. Enlisting a new friend, Madame Reynard, played by Valerie Mahaffey and a private detective, Julius, played by Isaach de Bankolé, Frances is determined to find Madeleine the ship's medium to find the cat through a séance. Dynamic are added when Frank Price, now inhabits in Little Frank, speaks, voiced by Tracy Letts, during the séance.

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Once the private investigator finds Madeleine, we begin to understand the mysterious urgency behind her motivation to find this cat. Soon our group of mis-joined misfits have grown, as life throws together this perplexing potpourri of strangers.

French Exit is delightful. Michelle Pfeiffer is captivating as Frances Price, an imperious, widowed New York socialite whose once-extreme wealth is gone. She captures the unusual realities of the socialite world remain, as attitudes and lifestyles are etched in stone.

The ensemble cast, a wonderful, assortment of characters, add dimension and layers. All support the oddities in each other and expel of the only one who does not fit. There are wonderful moments between Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Coyne who reflect on life now, as "old ladies" in the second or third act of life, after the chase of so many years, the need for love, sex, the disruptions, and chaos of youth.

French Exit an oddly enchanting, charming, and entertaining film, opens everywhere February 12, 2021. See it.

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Year – 2020.

Runtime – 113 minutes.

Country – USA, France.

Language – English with French Subtitles.

Director - Azazel Jacobs.

Screenplay - Patrick deWitt.

Cast - Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts, Valerie Mahaffey, Imogen Poots, Susan Coyne, Danielle Macdonald, Isaach de Bankolé, Daniel Di Tomasso.

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