Michelle Pfeiffer to Star in Azazel Jacobs’ Dark Comedy ‘French Exit’

     April 9, 2019

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Three-time Oscar nominee Michelle Pfeiffer was interviewed on the Today show on Monday where she promoted a new line of fragrances as well as her return as Janet Van Dyne in a little movie called Avengers: Endgame. She also mentioned a new film titled French Exit that “I might be doing the end of summer,” and Collider has pieced together some details regarding the indie project.

For starters, the film is a dark comedy that hails from Azazel Jacobs (The Lovers) and is based on the acclaimed novel by Patrick deWitt, author of The Sisters Brothers. Last fall, the Canadian newspaper the Times Colonist reported that deWitt had already written the screenplay for French Exit, which he finished even before advance reader copies of his book were printed. Now that’s confidence! It was deWitt who wrote Jacobs’ 2011 movie Terri, and it was Jacobs who gave Terri star John C. Reilly a copy of The Sisters Brothers, prompting Reilly to buy the film rights and produce the acclaimed film adaptation.

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Image via Disney

After Today host Hoda Kotb noted that Pfeiffer will star opposite Angelina Jolie in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, the actress said “I have something else that — it’s not 100 percent — but it’s something called French Exit, which I might be doing the end of summer.” The “might” in that sentence has more to do with the film’s financing than Pfeiffer’s desire to participate, but things are expected to work out on that front anyway.

Pfeiffer will play Frances Price, described as a tart widow, possessive mother and Upper East Side force of nature who is in dire straits, beset by scandal and impending bankruptcy. Her adult son, Malcolm, is no help, mired in a permanent state of arrested development, like a young boy trapped in a man’s body. And then there’s the family’s aging cat, Small Frank, who Frances believes houses the spirit of her late husband, an infamously immoral litigator and world-class cad whose gruesome tabloid death rendered Frances and Malcolm social pariahs. With little left for them in New York, the three of them head to Paris, where things don’t get much better for them — in a darkly funny way, of course.

French Exit made the final shortlist for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and since deWitt has already seen his work adapted for the big screen, he knows what to expect this time around. “What they tell authors when a book is going to be made into a film is that the movie will be its own thing. It will be related, but one is not necessarily a mirror image of the other. You’re going into this process understanding that on an intellectual level, but to come to emotionally accept it is something that takes time,” he told the Times Colonist.

Pfeiffer recently starred in Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, Darren Aronofsky‘s mother! and Kenneth Branagh‘s Murder on the Orient Express, as well as HBO’s acclaimed Bernie Madoff movie The Wizard of Lies with Robert De Niro. In addition to Avengers: Endgame, she’ll soon be seen in Disney’s Maleficent sequel as Queen Ingrith. That’s a lot of studio movies over the past few years, so I’m not surprised to see Pfeiffer tackle an indie movie with a juicy lead role she can really sink her teeth into. She has three Oscar nominations under her belt, including two lead actress noms for The Fabulous Baker Boys and Love Field.

Jacobs most recently wrote and directed A24’s The Lovers starring Debra Winger and Tracy Letts. He got great performances out of both those actors and did a solid job of depicting a midlife crisis, so I think he’s a good fit for the material in French Exit.

CAA represents Pfeiffer and Jacobs, who are respectively managed by Management 360 and Novo.

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Image via Warner Bros.

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Image via A24

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