Eye For Film >> Movies >> Saint Frances (2019) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
"I'm not going to get it," Bridget (Kelly O'Sullivan) tells someone after her job interview to be a summer holiday nanny for six-year-old Frances (Ramona Edith Williams). "I was too honest."
It's a statement that cuts to the heart of this comedy drama, which wears its heart on its sleeve and is refreshingly open about the sort of female experiences - period sex, abortion and 'geriatric' pregnancy among other things - that rarely make it into dramas let alone lighter fare. This being a feel-good film, of course Bridget gets the job, albeit a few weeks later, and starts to mind the feisty Frances for her lesbian parents, stay-at-home mum Maya (Charin Alvarez) - who has just had their second baby, Wally - and workaholic Annie (Lily Mojekwu).
If working life hasn't quite turned out to be everything she'd hoped by age 34, things on the home front are proving difficult for Bridget too, with she and her younger boyfriend Jace (Max Lipchitz), navigating an abortion after an episode of period sex delivers - along with a surprising amount of laughs - more than they bargained for. Meanwhile, Maya is navigating her own hormonal and mental health issues since the birth of her second child. These may sound like strong themes, and they are, but O'Sullivan, who also wrote the script, keeps them firmly in their place as part of life in all its unexpected glory. By ensuring the focus remains on the people at the heart of the story, and particularly Bridget, these more thoughtful elements about being a woman in the modern world are carried lightly and though Frances does provide something of a 'sounding board' for Bridget, she remains a six-year-old kid, with O'Sullivan largely avoiding the trap of putting too many adult words into her mouth.
As the sunny days pass and Bridget finds herself sinking into the job of caring for Frances more than she imagined, the warmth trickles into the corners of the film leaving cynicism no place to lurk. Although this is a female-centric narrative, Jace isn't given short shrift either. He may be open and caring about Bridget - itself something of a rarity in a film landscape where bad boys so often grab the attention - but O'Sullivan doesn't forget his emotional experience.
There's a matter of factness to everything. Bridget makes mistakes but we're not encouraged to judge her for those. Instead O'Sullivan and director Alex Thompson ask us to walk a mile or so in her sneakers, allowing us to get a feel for the rhythms of her life and what it might take to change that.Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2020