French Exit Ending Explained! What Happens At The End Of French Exit?
French Exit is a dark comedy-drama movie directed by Azazel Jacobs and based on Patrick deWitt’s novel of the same name, who also wrote the screenplay. The film revolves around a wealthy widow named Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) who moves to Paris with her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) after losing all her money.
The movie premiered at the New York Film Festival on October 10, 2020, and later released in the US and Canada on February 12, 2021, receiving mixed reviews from critics. Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance, however, was highly appreciated, and she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical.
After Frances’ husband’s death, the bank seizes all her property, leaving her and her son with limited options. They sell their belongings and move to Paris, where they live in a small apartment owned by Frances’ friend, along with their family cat, who Frances believes is her husband’s reincarnation.
In September 2019, Sony Pictures Classics acquired the film’s distribution rights, and it was screened for the first time at the New York Film Festival in October 2020. The film was scheduled for release on February 12, 2021, and a limited release was planned in New York City and Los Angeles before it went wide on April 2. French Exit was also selected for the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlin Special Titles section.
French Exit Film Summary
In French Exit, Frances Price (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a wealthy Manhattan heiress who enjoys a luxurious life with her son, Malcolm Price, courtesy of her late husband Franklin Price’s fortune. However, their privileged existence is threatened when Frances receives a notice that the bank is seizing all of Franklin’s property. It is revealed that seven years earlier, Frances found Franklin dying of a stroke but did nothing to help him.
Frances’s lawyer tells her that Malcolm’s inheritance will also be seized, leaving them penniless. He advises her to sell everything in their house, including their valuables, in secret and leave with the cash. Frances was initially confident that she would die before the money ran out, but she lives longer than expected, putting them in a financial crisis. Frances’s friend, Joan (Susan Coyne), offers them a vacant apartment in Paris.
Malcolm returns home to announce his engagement to Susan (Imogen Poots) but is shocked to learn that his mother has decided they will be leaving America permanently. The reserved Malcolm is heartbroken but accompanies his mother to Paris with their cat.
In Paris, Frances’s beloved cat scratches her and runs away. Frances believes that the cat is the reincarnation of Franklin and is determined to find it. The search for the cat brings mother and son closer together and helps bridge the gap between them.
Overall, French Exit is a captivating film that explores the complexities of family relationships, wealth, and loss, and features remarkable performances by its cast.
French Exit Ending Explained
Frances Price, the Manhattan heiress, finds contentment as she watches her son, Malcolm, and his girlfriend, Susan, embracing each other. She realizes that her son has found a new devotion in his life, but it also reminds her of the emptiness that she feels without her loved ones, especially after her cat, who is actually her reincarnated husband, runs away.
To connect with her late husband’s spirit, Frances seeks the help of Madeleine the Medium, who weeps while Frances talks to her husband. Madeleine senses that Frances is going to die, which is one of her powers to anticipate people’s deaths. She warned Frances not to lose the cat on a cruise where they first met, knowing that it is linked to Frances’s survival.
Frances has been spending her fortune recklessly, hoping to die soon, as she repeatedly said, “I’ll be dead before the money runs out.” Everyone around her knows that she wants to die, and during a house party, she sneaks out of the house after dealing with the money.
The ending flashback sequence strengthens the understanding between Malcolm and Frances, based on the fact that the world believes Frances killed her husband, but Malcolm understands that she killed him for the family’s good.
As Frances disappears into the yellow street light of Paris with the Cat approaching her, the film concludes, leaving the audience with a sense of closure and acceptance of the inevitability of death.
What Happens At The End Of French Exit?
Frances and Franklin were once an elite couple deeply in love, but their relationship faltered over time. Frances believed that having a child would rekindle their love, but after Malcolm’s birth, Franklin grew more distant.
Though Frances never vocalized her animosity towards her late husband, Malcolm did. Through spirit talk, Franklin revealed to Malcolm that Frances had contemplated killing him and urged him to ask her why. Though Malcolm declined to delve further into the matter, it was clear that he shared his mother’s resentment towards Franklin. Despite Malcolm’s childhood adoration, Franklin never showed him affection and instead treated him like an unwelcome entity. Malcolm spent much of his youth in boarding school, and both he and Frances harbored a deep resentment towards Franklin.
As time went on, the couple drifted further apart, with Franklin becoming cold, distant, and cruel. When he suffered a stroke, Frances abandoned him to die. Upon returning, she discovered the cat on his chest and knew that his spirit was trapped inside it. Frances was imprisoned for neglecting her husband during his stroke.
Petting the cat became a form of penance for Frances, an attempt to make amends for what she had done to her husband. This is why the cat plays such a crucial role in the story, serving as a bridge to mend the broken bonds between Frances and Malcolm.
French Exit is a film that communicates a myriad of emotions through its distinctive scenes and dominant subtext. Despite its profound narrative, the film is a comical ride, filled with witty humor and subtly designed scenes that linger long after the credits roll. The dildo in the freezer, the character of Mme. Reynard, and Frances’s sharp wit are just a few examples of the film’s standout moments.
Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal of Frances is superb, showcasing her own unique power in a male-dominated world. The story is told through Malcolm’s perspective, as he comes to realize that his mother was the true hero, fighting the world alone. The bond between mother and son is heartwarming, and Malcolm’s devotion to Frances is unwavering. Frances knows that Malcolm will never leave her, which is why she ultimately decides to leave on her own terms.
French Exit is a must-see film, taking the audience on an emotional journey filled with laughter and sorrow. It is a beautiful depiction of the bond between a mother and son, making it a truly rare and exceptional narrative.
French Exit Movie Review
Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a captivating performance in the offbeat and quirky adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s novel, French Exit. Pfeiffer plays Frances Price, a wealthy Manhattan socialite who plans to live out her remaining days in borrowed Parisian accommodations with her son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and her cat, Small Frank, whom she believes to be her late husband reincarnated.
As the mother and son duo navigate their new surroundings, they encounter an eccentric cruise ship fortune-teller, a private detective hired to find Small Frank, and Malcolm’s on-and-off girlfriend, Susan (Imogen Poots). Despite the film’s lack of overt Oedipal imagery, it does explore the cosseted co-dependency between the mother and son.
While the film’s dialogue is at times jarringly artificial and arch, Pfeiffer’s world-weary chagrin brings to life the script’s cherishable lines. The film shares similarities with the work of Wes Anderson but lacks the obsessive precision of his works, making it feel more like a showcase for Pfeiffer’s performance than a fully-realized film.
Ultimately, French Exit is a fun and unconventional film with a standout performance by Pfeiffer. Her portrayal of Frances, with her steely force of will and rarefied disappointment in the world, elevates the film to a must-watch status.
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