Saturday 18 March 2023

Movie Review: French Exit (2020)

Genre: Dramedy
Director: Azazel Jacobs
Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Imogen Poots
Running Time: 110 minutes

Synopsis: Independent-minded New York socialite Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) has been running out of money ever since her husband died, and is now forced to sell all her remaining belongings. Along with her grown son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and the family cat, Frances retreats to the Paris apartment of a friend, with Malcolm leaving behind girlfriend Susan (Imogen Poots). In Paris, an uneasy circle of thorny friends and acquaintances forms around Frances, as she grapples with the past and plots her future.

What Works Well: The wacky Frances is one-of-a-kind, entitled, unpleasant, but fascinating nonetheless. Michelle Pfeiffer shines without stretching as Frances luxuriates in a singular zone of quietly standing up to a world unappreciative of individuality. The cat's emergence as a central catalyst underlines an off-centre sensibility, director Jacobs and writer Patrick deWitt merrily introducing bizarre elements into the dreamy Parisian milieu. A psychic, a lonely expatriate, a private investigator, and the new boyfriend of the ex-girlfriend contribute to a motley crew of supporting characters.

What Does Not Work As Well: Everyone here stays close to original definitions, with hints of smug knowingness in the mostly low-key performances. The sober entwinement of supernatural elements could be off-putting in an otherwise grounded narrative.

Conclusion: When fierce self-defined autonomy is the only goal, weird is normal.

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