The film’s artificial, stylized remove—what might be called his current style, a kind of half-ironic, half-romantic wooziness—seems an odd landing point for the scrappy DIY filmmaker behind Momma’s Man and the genuinely touching and hilarious Terri, which DeWitt also wrote and which was so human it hurt.
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A defiantly unbelievable and drably directed heap of quirk that’s as overstuffed as it is underpowered, a head-scratching failure for all involved.
In French Exit’s best passages, sadness and curt, resonant comedy exist side by side unceremoniously.
French Exit is sure to divide — it’s got great performances and a confidence in its atmosphere that the gods could envy. The struggle, then, is whether you’re prepared for the sheer amount of deliberate aimlessness Jacobs and deWitt are willing to throw at you.
The result is an anodyne if increasingly tender little film that would have been lost in its own lineage if not for the strength of its cast.
Pfeiffer's performance in this uneven but charming adaptation of Patrick deWitt's 2018 novel certainly isn't her subtlest, but it ranks among her most captivatingly Pfeiffer-ian.
There's more to admire than to love in Azazel Jacobs' arch drawing-room comedy, with its surreal styling and arch Wes Anderson-y tics — and something essential lost, maybe, in screenwriter Patrick deWitt's own adaptation of his acclaimed 2018 novel of the same name.
The film does not waste the brilliance of its two leading performances. But it doesn’t expand much upon their skilled interpretations, either.
Yes, French Exit blisters amid the rarefied air of Tom Wolfe or Whit Stillman, but it’s nicely cut with the schadenfreude of “Schitt’s Creek.”
French Exit walks an uneasy line between darkness and light, elegance and eccentricity, delicious humor and disturbing tragedy. These are not normal people, and this is not a normal film. But Pfeiffer makes it an odd, enjoyably twisty ride.