Films that have a not so obvious plot point and are a little quirky always intrigue me. Based on the book by Patrick deWitt and directed by Azazel Jacobs, French Exit is a darkly comedic flick with one-of-a-kind tragic circumstances, serving as a brilliant high society, mother-son caper that is oddly prolific and moving.
Starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges and Danielle MacDonald, boasting a classical soundtrack against the chaotic nature of the film, French Exit is worth screening if only to witness spectacular performances from its three stars…particulary Michelle Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer plays Frances, a widowed Manhattan socialite who discovers she has run out of money. In this moment, she’s sad, embarrassed, amused, confiding, and horrified, while portraying a character who is a well-mannered, bubbling volcano ready to erupt at any give moment.
Lucas Hedges, known mostly for playing highly charged and emotional characters, is completely bored as Pfieffer’s son Malcom. It is pure comedy and a titular shift for Hedges, which I welcomed with open arms as an audience member. Watching him struggle with the death of his Dad, while juggling being present for his Mom proves to be a juggling act he didn’t sign up for. Ultimately, it is their love of each other that allows him to grow and move on as a fully formed human being learning to navigate in the world void of his need for parental approval. His performance is only enhanced by the comedically grounded performance of co-star Danielle MacDonald as martini guzzling medium Madeleine. That talking candle seance after Frances’ cat runs away (who she is convinced is her late husband) is about as comical and eccentric as they come.
Eccentric sums up the supporting cast (Valerie Mahaffey, Susan Coyne, Daniel di Tomasso and Christine Lan) who aid in keeping the energy and pacing going full throttle within a world that feels more Shakespearean as the mintues tick on. Produced by Sony Pictures Classic, French Exit will make you think twice when contemplating how one navigates through life sans parents and how it effects your world now and in the future. It’s now available digitially and on demand and a Blu-ray release is planned for June 15th.