‘French Exit’ Is Dark And Weird And I’m Here For It
If you’re anything like me, you get mixed emotions when you see the name Lucas Hedges in a cast list.
You’re happy because you have a pretty good idea that the movie is going to be good, but you also cringe a bit because there’s a pretty good chance that you’re going to experience serious melancholy at some point. (I offer ‘Boy Erased,’ ‘Manchester by the Sea,’ ‘Waves,’ ‘Ben is Back,’ and ‘Honey Boy’ as prime examples.)
You can exhale because his latest outing – ‘French Exit’ – maintains the quality of the aforementioned films, without sending you running for a stiff drink and a warm hug afterward.
Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) Prince in ‘French Exit.’ (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)
Hedges stars as Malcolm Price, a timid young man from an aristocratic New York family. Scared to tell his widowed mother, Frances (Michelle Pfeiffer), about his engagement to Susan (Imogen Poots), Malcolm soon finds himself without a backbone or a girlfriend.
At the same time, Frances finds out that most of the money remaining in her husband’s estate is gone, and that soon she and Malcolm will be destitute.
Collecting what is left of her dwindling fortune and relying on the kindness of close friends, Frances decides that it’s time for her and Malcolm to escape to Paris with little more than each other and the family cat.
The cat is also the reincarnated husband, Frank.
On the surface, the story is utterly ridiculous: over-the-top socialite and socially awkward son flee New York with dead husband/father/cat in tow to escape impending poverty.
Madeleine the Medium (Danielle Macdonald), Madame Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), and Susan (Imogen Poots) in ‘French Exit.’ (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)
But as you dig deeper, you realize that this family is and has been dysfunctional for a long time and none of them had any idea. It’s through their shared, unresolved traumas they eventually start to recognize this fact and work through it.
That dysfunction, however, also attracts an equally dysfunctional cast of supporting characters that weave themselves into the extended Price clan.
There’s Madeleine the Medium (Danielle Macdonald), a ship soothsayer that forms a physical connection with Malcolm and a psychic connection with Feline Frank. There’s Madame Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), the widowed ex-pat that tries to befriend Frances upon her arrival in Paris, and, despite being deemed unworthy to do so, manages to maneuver her way into the inner circle. There’s also a private investigator Julius (Isaach De Bankolé), who’s brought in to help search for a missing Feline Frank; Susan, the would-be fiancé, who can’t quit Malcolm despite her better judgment; and Susan’s new boyfriend, Tom (Daniel di Tomasso), who wants nothing more than to prove his worth to Susan by besting her former beau.
Susan (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Daniel di Tomasso), in ‘French Exit.’ (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)
This collection of eccentrics combines to deliver a fun, albeit somewhat twisted, tale of loss, family, and understanding.
★★★★ of ★★★★★