French Exit (2020 film)

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French Exit
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAzazel Jacobs
Screenplay byPatrick deWitt
Based onFrench Exit
by Patrick deWitt
Produced by
CinematographyTobias Datum
Edited byHilda Rasula
Music byNick deWitt
Distributed byElevation Pictures (Canada)[2]
Sony Pictures Classics
Stage 6 Films (international)[3]
Release dates
  • October 11, 2020 (2020-10-11) (NYFF)
  • February 12, 2021 (2021-02-12) (Canada)
Running time
110 minutes[4]
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom[5]
Box office$1.6 million[6][1]

French Exit is a 2020 black comedy-drama film[7][8] directed by Azazel Jacobs,[9] based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt, who also wrote the screenplay. It tells the story of a Manhattan heiress (Michelle Pfeiffer) who moves to Paris with her son (Lucas Hedges) with the little money they have left.

The film had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 10, 2020, and was theatrically released in the United States and Canada on February 12, 2021. It received mixed reviews from critics, although Pfeiffer's performance was praised and she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.


The bank seizes all the property of Manhattan heiress Frances Price several years after her husband's death. The close-to-penniless widow and her son, Malcolm, are left with few options. They sell everything in their house and relocate to a small apartment in Paris owned by Frances' friend, with the family cat, who happens to be Frances' reincarnated husband.



It was announced in May 2019 that Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges and Tracy Letts were cast in the film, with Azazel Jacobs directing and the novel's author Patrick deWitt writing the screenplay.[10] Danielle Macdonald was cast in October.[11]


Principal photography began in October 2019, with Paris and Montreal as the filming locations.[12]


In September 2019, Sony Pictures Classics acquired distribution rights to the film.[8] It had its world premiere at the New York Film Festival on October 10, 2020.[13]

On August 20, 2020, the studio scheduled the film to be released on February 12, 2021.[14][15] In February 2021, it was announced the film would begin a limited release in New York City and Los Angeles on February 12, before going wide on April 2.[16]

It was selected to be presented to Berlin Film Festival in the section Berlin Special Titles.


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, 64% of 181 critic reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "The smartly written French Exit offers proof that even the most caustic characters can be made entertaining – and even relatable – through a Michelle Pfeiffer performance."[17] According to Metacritic, which reports a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 32 critics, the film received "mixed or average reviews".[18]

David Ehrlich of IndieWire gave the film a "B−" and wrote: "Jacobs doesn't give us much else to hold on to. For all of its touching moments – and a series of closing grace notes that shimmer with a mystical flair missing from the rest of the film – this gossamer-thin adaptation is hampered by the same ambivalence that's haunted [Pfeiffer's character] Frances for so long."[19]

Pfeiffer received critical acclaim for her performance with many critics dubbing it Oscar-worthy and Variety's Pete Dubruge writing that she delivered a role "for which she'll be remembered."[20][21][22][23][24]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient Result Ref.
Satellite Awards February 15, 2021 Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Michelle Pfeiffer Nominated [25]
Golden Globe Awards February 28, 2021 Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy Nominated [26]
Canadian Screen Awards May 20, 2021 Best Actress Won [27]
Independent Spirit Awards April 22, 2021 Best Supporting Female Valerie Mahaffey Nominated [28]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "French Exit (2021)". The Numbers. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Catalogue". Elevation Pictures. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  3. ^ "French Exit". Stage 6 Films. Retrieved 22 August 2021.
  4. ^ "58th New York Film Festival Main Slate Announced". New York Film Festival. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
  5. ^ "French Exit". The Numbers. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  6. ^ "French Exit (2021)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  7. ^ Sneider, Jeff (9 April 2019). "Michelle Pfeiffer to Star in Azabel Jacobs' Dark Comedy 'French Exit'". Collider. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  8. ^ a b Lang, Brent (7 September 2019). "Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'French Exit' With Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges". Variety. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
  9. ^ "'French Exit' Summary & Ending, Explained - Some Cliches Are Worth Experiencing | DMT". Digital Mafia Talkies. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  10. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (3 May 2019). "Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges, Tracy Letts To Star In 'French Exit' Comedy". Deadline.
  11. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (23 October 2019). "Danielle Macdonald Joins Michelle Pfeiffer In 'French Exit'". Deadline.
  12. ^ Bennett, Anita (7 September 2019). "Sony Pictures Classics Acquires Azazel Jacobs' 'French Exit' Starring Michelle Pfeiffer & Lucas Hedges". Deadline.
  13. ^ Lang, Brent (11 August 2020). "'French Exit' With Michelle Pfeiffer, Lucas Hedges to Close New York Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 11 August 2020.
  14. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (22 August 2020). "Michelle Pfeiffer & Lucas Hedges Drama 'French Exit' Sets Early 2021 Opening". Deadline. Retrieved 22 August 2020.
  15. ^ Anderson, Erik (20 August 2020). "Sony Classics' 'French Exit' with Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges gets release date". AwardsWatch. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  16. ^ Pedersen, Erik (2 February 2021). "Sony Pictures Classics Updates Release Plans For 'French Exit', 'Truffle Hunters', 'Human Factor', 'The Father' & More". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  17. ^ "French Exit (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  18. ^ "French Exit Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  19. ^ Ehrlich, David (10 October 2020). "'French Exit' Review: Michelle Pfeiffer and Lucas Hedges Outshine a Sleepy Transatlantic Satire". IndieWire. Retrieved 13 October 2020.
  20. ^ Debruge, Peter (10 October 2020). "'French Exit' Review: Michelle Pfeiffer Makes a Clean Break, Delivering a Role for Which She'll Be Remembered". Variety. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  21. ^ Debruge, Peter (11 October 2020). "Everything Is Terrible, but Michelle Pfeiffer Is Talking to a Cat". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  22. ^ Hammond, Peter (11 October 2020). "Michelle Pfeiffer Delivers Oscar-Worthy Performance In Dazzling New York Film Fest Closing-Night Film 'French Exit'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  23. ^ Hoffman, Jordan (11 October 2020). "Michelle Pfeiffer Seems an Oscar Nom Lock for French Exit". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  24. ^ Gray, Tim (2 January 2021). "Michelle Pfeiffer's Hypnotic 'French' Connection". Variety.
  25. ^ Van Blaricom, Mirjana (1 February 2021). "25th Satellite Awards Nominees for Motion Pictures and Television Announced". International Press Academy. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  26. ^ "Nominations for the 78th Golden Globe Awards (2021) Announced". Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  27. ^ "Canadian Screen Awards Announces 2021 Film Nominations". ET Canada. 30 March 2021. Archived from the original on 30 March 2021.
  28. ^ Warren, Matt (26 January 2021). "2021 Film Independent Spirit Award Nominations Announced!". Film Independent. Retrieved 6 February 2021.

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