06th Jul2020

‘Saint Frances’ VOD Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Kelly O’Sullivan, Romana Edith Williams,  Charin Alvarez, Braden Crothers, Laura T. Fisher, Mary Beth Fisher, Francis Guinan, Max Lipchitz, Lily Mojekwu, Bradley Grant Smith, Jim True-Frost | Written by Kelly O’Sullivan | Directed by Alex Thompson

After earning the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, and a Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice at the 2019 SXSW festival, I was expecting big things from this drama comedy.

Saint Frances follows the life of Bridget. A thirty four year old woman who has yet to achieve her career goal as a writer and her new job sees her as a nanny to six year old Frances. Frances doesn’t make it easy for her and an unwanted pregnancy as well as two mums who are struggling with their relationship, means that things get a bit complicated in her life.

Saint Frances covers alot of ‘current’ topics including same sex parents and abortion but this never feels clichéd or forced. Everything feels very natural and is handled in the most sensitive way possible without shying away from the topics. Much of this is down to the writing from Kelly O’Sullivan, who also plays the lead role as Bridget. This is her first writing credit and I’d be shocked if she doesn’t get many many more. It’s an assured debut as a writer.

O’ Sullivan is great in the lead to. She obviously knows exactly how she wants her character portrayed and it shows. Everything feels very real, very relatable, Bridget (and all the other characters) feel like normal people, and that’s a compliment. All the main performances are fantastic. Charin Alvarez and Lily Mojekwu as Frances parents excel in their roles. Neither are afraid to show how difficult these characters are finding having a new child (Frances’ little brother) and both performances are best when they are that their most intense.

But Romana Edith Williams is a star in the making as six year old Frances. She steals pretty much every scene she appears in and brings a smile to your face every time. That innocents of a child has never been better encapsulated than it is here.

Having an abortion as a key part of your story is always going to be difficult because it’s a difficult topic to handle. But O’Sullivan, as the writer, has done this brilliantly in two ways. Firstly it is handled to perfection. Abortion and pro-choice is spoke about openly and it is clearly shown the effect it has on everyone involved. No-one is made to look ‘the bad person’, and it’s a refreshing take on things. But it is also written in a way that it doesn’t take over the whole film. It is always there but other aspects of the story take centre stage too. It really is expertly written.

The relationships are so fantastically interwoven. The Frances and Bridget one is there first and foremost, and it’s a lovely relationship that naturally progress to the point that in the final scenes you will be crying along with them. But there are branches that stem off from the two of them – be it Frances to mums and their individual relationships to Bridget and of course each other. As well as Bridget and her on/off twenty something year old boyfriend. All of these get plenty of time to ingest them and understand them. Even at a little over ninety minutes, you wont feel like you are short-changed.

Saint Frances is a perfect film to watch during the world’s current climate because it will make you smile from ear to ear. It might make you cry a little too, but that’s okay too. Director Alex Thompson and of course, writer/actor Kelly O’Sullivan have created something special with Saint Frances and they are sure to have great careers ahead of them.

Saint Frances is an emotional, heartfelt and beautiful movie that I will be recommending to everyone.

**** 4/5

Saint Frances is released in cinemas across the UK on July 17th, courtesy of Vertigo Releasing.


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