Life in the Big Apple bites, so a waning widow heads to the City of Lights. We get the deets behind Michelle Pfeiffer’s new film and find out why she was terrified to play the part.
In cinemas March 18
Jetting off to Paris to escape your problems doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future (thanks, Covid), but Michelle Pfeiffer is doing just that in the new dark comedy French Exit.
The Oscar nominee stars as Frances Price, a glamorous, widowed Manhattan socialite whose inheritance is quickly running out. Her husband has been dead for a decade and, with little left to fund her extravagant lifestyle, Frances decides to sneak off to Paris with her long-suffering son Malcolm (Lucas Hedges) and their cat Small Frank – who may or may not be inhabited by her late husband’s spirit. Frances plans on living out her final years in solitude and anonymity, and settles into her friend’s vacant apartment in the French capital. But she soon finds herself in the company of an eclectic group of people, including a medium, a private investigator and her son’s ex-fiancée.
The film is based on the novel of the same name by Canadian author Patrick deWitt, who says of his main character: “She’s tough, and yet, there’s something ultimately very soft and loving about her. She’s not who you think she is.”
When Michelle read the script – and the book – she immediately fell in love with the project.
“I was fascinated by Frances, I was repelled by her, I was terrified to play her,” says the 62-year-old. “I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’ It’s one of those parts where I had to work really hard to get inside of her head. Her world is fascinating to me, but foreign.
“She can be rude and very curt at times, but I loved her take-no-prisoners attitude. We spend our entire lives trying to be polite, trying to not upset the apple cart, and she doesn’t really have any of that.”