Saint Frances (2019) - 7/10
Updated: Apr 25, 2021
This follows a trend in cinema recently. It’s got that laid back, honest and real vibe. No nonsense, a focus on the substance over style... albeit with an almost ever present acoustic guitar accompaniment. We’re thrown in somewhere in the middle of the pool with Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan), in her 30s, on her own, dead end job, looking for a foothold on life. Bridget doesn’t say the right things, do the right things. Despite this she finds herself a new role nannying Frances (Ramona Edith Williams), who despite being 6, shares a lot with Bridget. She’s also a bit unanchored with a new baby brother and has a habit of saying what comes to mind. Frances is a livewire, potentially not what Bridget needs in her complicated life, but her world opens Bridget to experiences that help them both... kind of. If it were as simple as that, it’d struggle to hold your attention, but even the story feels unanchored. It flits around with a rawness that keeps you on edge. Despite serious themes of love, abortion, depression, race, religion. It’s pretty funny, darkly so, awkwardly so. This is what makes it feel fresh, like Bridget, it doesn’t follow the rules, there’s no sheen. It’s loose and messy, as Bridget’s choices lead to more emotional conflict. I’m not even sure if it’s all that entertaining in a traditional sense, but there’s something about it‘s serious dramatic weight that keeps me glued to the end. It’s Bridget, despite her flaws, of which she has many, we want the best for. I’m not sure what the best is, Bridget certainly doesn’t have a clue, but it’s a compelling ride watching her struggle with her body, her boyfriends and her role as a responsible adult. The world can be cruel and confusing, in the maelstrom of honest reality here, it’s wonderful to see a strong cast absolutely fucking nail it. And just as we’re thrown in, we’re pulled back out. Cut to black. Turn the acoustic guitar up and bring in the vocal.