Film: Michelle Pfeiffer in French Exit




An intriguing film which is a mix of screwball comedy and black humour – and a showcase for its star, Michelle Pfeiffer.

Francis (Michelle Pfeiffer) is told by her accountant that she has exhausted the money she inherited from her wealthy husband who died 12 years ago. She is 65, self-absorbed, eccentric, and has a playful disregard for what other people think. She had taken her apathetic 12 year old son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges, who underplays his role beautifully) out of the boarding school where he had been for most of his childhood.

Not wanting to spoil her plans to go away for the weekend, and reasoning that the dead husband would still be there on her return off she goes – but on return has to spend a short time in jail.

Everything she owns is then converted to cash, which she intends to spend recklessly, as soon as possible – and then die.



Twelve years later with the piles of cash rapidly running out she accepts the offer of her friend Joan (Susan Coyne) to take  Malcolm (who can’t make up his mind about his relationship with his girlfriend Susan (Imogen Poots) to live for an indefinite time in her empty Paris apartment.

After a transatlantic journey on a cruise ship with a big bag full of money and a black cat (a star in the film who quietly steals many of the scenes, voiced by Tracy Letts) called Small Frank who is possibly a reincarnation of her dead husband Frank.

On board they meet Madelaine (Danielle Macdonald) a rather large psychic who doesn’t mind telling people that they are going to die. She has a one night stand with Malcolm and is called “the fucked witch” by Francis.



A new best friend arrives on the scene when lonely Madame Reynard (a very entertaining Valerie Mahaffey, who keeps a dildo in the freezer) invites them to a party where they are the only guests.

Joan’s small apartment becomes overcrowded after Small Frank disappears. Private investigator (Isaach de Bankole) is employed to track down Madelaine so that she can be asked to run a séance to find him. Susan and her new boyfriend (Daniel de Tomasso) turn up and there is an arm wrestle to settle the affections of Susan, and Madam Reynard and Joan come to check up on Francis. They all join in the proceedings.

The film has an elegant musical score and is really a two-hander with an ensemble cast joining in. It was directed by Azazel Jacobs (The Lovers) from a screenplay by Patrick de Witt from his own novel of the same name.



It opened at the New York Film Festival to mixed reviews and attracted a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for Michelle Pfeiffer.

It may not be to everyone’s taste but quirky dialogue from off-beat characters and great casting make for an entertaining film, with a rather unconvincing ending.

110 minutes.

Showing at the Windsor Theatre Nedlands from March 18th.

Watch the trailer…




One thought on “Film: Michelle Pfeiffer in French Exit

  1. A passable flick, started well, good dialogue and acting from Pfeiffer, but seemed to go oddly amiss in the second half. A tale desperately seeking a fulfilling finale, but started to wobble then petered out anticlimactically.

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