A 30 something woman finds acceptance in a new setting.
Saint Frances is a different kind of 'coming of age' film, centering around 34 year old Bridgette (Kelly O’Sullivan), a woman who doesn't quite have her life figured out yet, but doesn't seem to let that bring herself down (as best as she can at least). She struggles with parents who want to have grandchildren and also the usual relationship issues: trying to find the right guy at a different stage of her life, being older than the stigma to be married and have kids. She struggles financially, but is able to get by waitressing at a job that she absolutely detests. Bridgette decides to go out of her comfort zone and interview for a nanny job with two gay mother's, watching their child Frances during the summer while one is at work and the other takes care of their new born. Bridgette gets the job even though she's never worked with kids and her interview is hilariously awkward. Grateful for the job, she begins her journey with Frances, and with delicate care, the director weaves through tough subject such as homosexuality, religion and abortion with ease and great care for all sides of the topics, understanding that everyone has different views and respecting those views. It's a beautifully touching film that often hilarious and full of wonderful characters.
Not knowing a lot about this film going in, I didn't have any expectations, so my experience was entirely something new, and what a delightful experience it was. The film is written by the star Kelley O'Sullivan, who clearly has a voice in her writing. It's not overpowering or preachy in any way, in fact she shares many of the same beliefs as I do (she claims she's an "agnostic feminist!" to two Catholic mother's in a very funny scene), so it was very easy for me to relate to her character. The movie takes place over one summer, and it shows just how much can happen in one season. Bridgette meets a boy at a restaurant and they become a casual thing, she becomes pregnant and gets an abortion.
This is where the film would start to turn some heads. When the abortion itself is done, the message O’Sullivan champions rings loud and true without shaming the other side of the argument surrounding this hot topic. O’Sullivan clearly believes abortion is the woman's choice, and if she's not ready for a child, then she shouldn't have to have it. I know that's a pretty heady subject, and while I agree with the message, I know half probably will disagree, and that's just fine. The filmmakers explore differing sides of this subject, navigating the religious aspects and personal ones with deft sincerity and never over stepping boundaries. It's done with taste and humor, it feels very human. I hope to show this to my more conservative friends and hope to sway their thinking in some ways. It shows that God or religion has absolutely nothing to do with a woman's personal choice.
I loved one particular scene where Frances is pretending to speak as God through a confessional booth to Bridgette. Bridgette confesses that she lied about her first confession, and that she's lied before. To which Frances forgives her and asks her if she feels bad about anything to which Bridgette replies confidently "No." Having an abortion should be nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn't make anyone a monster or worse, and people need to start worrying about themselves. The way I word it is far preachier than the movie, I promise. It doesn't slam any opinions down anyone's throats but rather explores both sides with validity to both but choosing the more correct views.
“Frances” is not solely based around abortion themes, it also deals with acceptance no matter gender, orientation, the past mistakes of humans, and it tackles them all with immense heart, exploring other personal themes, such as depression and life’s crisis, all with such a human touch that it's hard not to connect to these characters. Kelly O Sullivan is so natural in this role that it's almost feels like a biography. Her writing is just as impressive as her acting, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for her in the world of cinema, because I think she's gonna turn some heads. The moms are both immensely talented as well as the daughter. I'm not a fan of children, but at the end of this movie I couldn't help but smile and nod along with the music, relishing the time I got to spend with these characters. My only real quip is that it does longer a bit towards the end, and contrary to what I said earlier there is one scene that is a bit too on the nose, but the rest of the film is just too good and done with too good of intentions to really knock it too much.
Overall Saint Frances is a stunningly delightful film, one that I recommend to anyone and everyone no matter personal beliefs. You may come out changed, you may come out even stronger in your beliefs, you may come out not changed at, all which is fine. One thing is for sure, you'll have a great time with these characters. There's plenty of laughs, tears and morals, and by the end you'll be sure to be rooting for Bridgette and her future.
I give Saint Frances 4.5 stars out of 5.
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