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  • French Exit ⋆⋆

Film

French Exit ⋆⋆

An average adaptation of Patrick DeWitt's novel, which shortchanges the ever-wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer.

Image for French Exit ⋆⋆

An average adaptation of Patrick DeWitt’s novel, which shortchanges the ever-wonderful Michelle Pfeiffer.

This uninspired take on Patrick DeWitt’s novel sees widowed socialite Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) forced to relocate from the US to France, leaving behind her uptown Manhattan lifestyle she now cannot afford and having to make do with famously sensibly priced Paris. Joining her is her disaffected son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges), who leaves his fiancée behind to help mummy dearest with her decreasing finances.

French Exit is not total merde, chiefly thanks to the screen-commanding talents of Michelle Pfeiffer, who steals the show and manages to sell her caustic character’s journey of self-destruction. However, Azazel Jacobs’ attempts at absurdist humour are so mannered and forcibly quirky that you end up cringing and wanting to rewatch The Royal Tenenbaums instead. Not helping matters is the screenplay, adapted by DeWitt himself: if the dialogue reads well on the page, the onscreen treatment lands with an almighty clunk, as every attempt at profundity or wit comes off as tooth-gratingly clichéd. You’re left with a meandering story about privilege that yearns to capture some of that Wes Anderson deadpan whimsy, but ends up never rising to the talents of its leading lady.

French Exit / Directed by Azazel Jacobs (US, 2021) with Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges. Starts September 02.