Michelle Pfeiffer in French Exit.
French Exit is a suicide movie. If you are going to watch it you are better off knowing this in advance.
It is about a dumb, rich insane formerly beautiful New York society lady and her creepy idiot son. After frittering away her dead husband’s massive ill-gotten gains, she secretly decides to kill herself after giving away the hundred or so thousand dollars she gets from selling all her possessions. She smuggles her ‘magical’ black cat into Paris where she give all her money to hoboes and high living, and then walks off into the night. It seems no one cares that she is just handing out wads of cash. This fairly closely follows the bleak plot of the novel on which the movie is based, as described at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Exit_(novel
I feel no compunction about spoiling the plot of this bad movie for you, because all the reviews and promos I read totally glossed over its dark suicidal intent, and how watching it could be a trigger for people who are mentally fragile. Reviews even pretend it is a comedy. The promo says “Sharply written with a macabre sense of humour, and adapted from the critically-acclaimed novel, French Exit offers proof that the most toxic characters can be entertaining – and even relatable – held together by a towering performance from Michelle Pfeiffer. “My plan was to die before the money ran out,” says 60-year-old penniless Manhattan socialite Frances Price (Pfeiffer), but things didn’t go as planned.” You would have to be mentally sick yourself to find this funny.
I did not think Pfeiffer was either “toxic” or “relatable”. The point of the movie was that she totally pushed everyone away. I thought it was incredibly sad that everyone around her obviously thought ‘you made your bed so you can lie in it’. She has obviously been in need of professional psychological counselling help and a supportive community for many years, but no one cared.
Pfeiffer is perfect for this role as a movie beauty queen past her starlet prime. My wife watched the movie and thought she had so much plastic surgery her face is almost falling off, but this is apparently untrue according to her Wikipedia page
. Her starring movies have grossed two billion dollars, so she is a major Hollywood heavyweight. I don’t go to the movies much, but only think of her as Cat Woman, a role eerily previewing this latest crazy show.
This new cat woman has one friend in the world who offers her free use of the apartment in Paris. Once there, Pfeiffer writes her friend a suicide note, but does not send it, she just leaves it with a hundred euro bill at a café. The café obviously sends it on, and the friend arrives highly alarmed in Paris to interrogate Pfeiffer, who now somehow maintains she is okay despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Her son just watches her giving money away, like he is autistic. A lonely American lady in Paris reaches out since she had watched Pfeiffer as a society queen in Manhattan, once seeing her show blank indifference to a man who savagely criticised the morals of her dead husband. After spurning the offer of friendship (since she only plans to die), Pfeiffer lets this ditzy woman come live with them. But she is no help either.
This movie is totally weird. It features a ‘fucked witch’ (their term), who meets them by having sex with the son on the ship en route to Paris, then getting tossed in the ship brig for killing an elderly passenger by thought suggestion. She is brought to the apartment by a private investigator Pfeiffer hires with an exorbitant sum of money in order to find the cat, who has vanished. The witch contacts the dead spirit of the husband, now inhabiting the black cat who has run away for fear that Pfeiffer is trying to kill him. They have several long spooky séance conversations, something that would only encourage fragile people to believe such bullshit is possible.
Another weird character is the girlfriend of the son. He dumps her after promising to be engaged, in order to accompany his mad mom to France, due to his general autistic and listless anomie. He constantly lies to her that he intends to tell his mother they are engaged, but never does so. She goes back to her childhood sweetheart, who is a successful finance professional, but then the son cruelly phones her from Paris to plead to her to rescue him, fucking with her brain. He should have left her alone, but he is too autistic to see the impact of his emotional connection with her. She drags her sweetheart with her to Paris where in a totally insane development she dumps him and goes back to the penniless useless moron. Love conquers all. These people are crazy.
The moral of the story is that people are totally insane and stupid but no one cares. This movie is thoroughly nihilistic, explaining how money has totally corrupted and atomised this social network in ways that its members are powerless to see or stop. Once the money runs out the only solution is death.