Plot: What’s it about?
When preparing the annual Holiday Gift Guide I generally hit an impasse when it comes to the “For the Gals” section. It’s obvious, I’m not a woman and I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer – ergo I don’t know what women want. Well me and every other guy on the face of the planet, right? All kidding aside, there are a lot of films I get throughout the year that simply don’t get coverage. It’s not that I don’t want to cover them, it’s a matter of time and priority. But as I was sifting through my pile I did happen across French Exit. I’d vaguely remembered requesting this and being somewhat excited to see it – I mean…Michelle Pfeiffer! But I’ve also found that what I’m excited for one day, I quickly forget about the next. It’s that whole “instant gratification” thing that we’ve become used to. Enough about that. I was looking for something and I found it! So I popped the disc in the player. Here’s what I found…
Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a Manhattan socialite who’s been living off her dead husband’s fortune for nearly a decade. She learns, however, that her stipend is nearing the bottom of the well. So she sells what’s left and moves to Paris with her son, Malcolm (Lucas Hedges). Even though she’s hurting for cash, her lifestyle doesn’t seem to change much. She throws money around like it’s going out of style. We also meet Mme. Reynard (Valerie Mahaffey), someone who desperately wants to befriend Frances. There’s also a cruise ship psychic (Danielle MacDonald) who has a thing for Malcolm and we also meet his girlfriend (Imogen Poots) who shows up with her new boyfriend. There’s also a wacky private investigator (Isaach de Bankole) who’s hired to find the psychic.
If you’re lost, don’t worry – you’re in good company. I was too. The main problem I found with French Exit is that it didn’t seem to know what kind of movie it wanted to be. On one hand, it could have been a very downtrodden look at how the rich have fallen. On the other hand, it’s kind of a screwball comedy with some fairly off the wall characters. But, here’s the thing, the filmmakers never really decided which way to go with it and that, in turn, confuses the viewer. There aren’t really any bad performances in the film and it does have some great moments. Pfeiffer is, as expected, at the top of her game and Lucas Hedges holds his own with this Hollywood veteran. Not to beat a dead horse, but there are flashes of brilliance here. They’re just too few and far between, though. I won’t go so far as to say this should have sat in my “to be reviewed” pile and collected dust, but it’s one I won’t be watching again.
Video: How’s it look?
Sony brings French Exit to Blu-ray with a good-looking 2.39:1 AVC HD encode. And yes, they actually did shoot in Paris so if you’re looking for some scenes in the city of lights – you’ll find them. Then again many movies shoot in Paris, so likely you’ve seen everything before. Flesh tones seem warm and natural, detail is excellent (even now Michelle Pfeiffer is stunning) and we find a nice, natural color palette. There’s not a lot to dislike here.
Audio: How’s it sound?
This isn’t one that’s really geared to show off your system. It’s a dialogue-driven piece that’ll keep your center channel happy, but not much more. Yes, there are some ambient surround effects that add some ambiance, but by and large we know what we’re going to get with this one. Vocals are sharp and crisp. There’s not a lot more to say about this one.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Deleted and Extended Scenes – Nothing much going on here, just some longer versions of scenes in the film as well as a few that didn’t make the final cut.
The Bottom Line
All the elements are in line for what could have been a pretty decent film. But it’s misguide and misdirected with only a few good performances to remember. While Sony’s disc look and sounds the part, the spartan selection of extras don’t do much to sell this one on disc. I’d rent it and if you do like it, odds are you can find a good deal.