Saint Frances (2019)

Rates: * * * *

Why Did I Watch It? It popped up on a list of recommended streaming films on letterboxd.

Cast, crew, etc.


34 year old Bridget struggles with nearly everything. She has a dead end job in the service industry, a half hearted sexual partnership with another amiable slacker, and dislocated relationships with her parents and friends. Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives, while she is stuck in a rut. Almost by accident she lands a job as a nanny to a privelaged six year old, which will give her a very small nudge forward.

But one of the great strengths of this well observed dramedy is that it avoids easy answers. In a different film Bridget would have some sort of epiphany; one of the other characters would go:

‘Life means taking a chance on something.’

And Bridget would go: ‘Yes’.

This would inspire her to write a screenplay or novel, and in the final scene you would realise that everything you had just watched was part of this writing project, the finishing of which indicated she was getting her shit together (and you’d roll your eyes and wonder if you didn’t spend too much time watching movies, after all).

But this film dodges that trap. Real life is a messy business, literally and figuratively, and here we get both. There are bodily fluids, personal embarrassments, awkward convos and tricky situations. Characters frequently don’t know what to do, or have trouble expressing themselves. They argue in a non articulate way. There are a lot of small details and occurences that speak of personal experience.

Bridget is a complex person, frustrating at times for the audience as well as the other characters (witness her rejection of her nice guy potential BF, for a sleezy music teacher). She is also appealing, and her determination to work things out on her own is very winning. The ending is upbeat in just the right way; you feel like Bridget has made progress but it would hard to pinpoint exactly how; she might be on her way but there are no pat answers. A great performance from newcomer Kelly O’Sullivan, who also wrote the screenplay.

The film has a good feel for life in 2020, and manages to touch on a number of contemporary issues in a (mostly) well nudged way. An abortion forms a major plot point, and this is handled in a sensitive, but clear eyed way, the difficulty and varied emotions of this choice underlined carefully. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign in a front yard, and the ‘pro life’ magnet on a fridge, pepper these topics in to the mix without feeling the need to scream about them. And the affluent couple who hire Bridget are both women, and I enjoyed that the focus here is on their daily domestic struggles, rather than their sexuality; the fact that they are lesbians is such a mundane fact it is barely mentioned.

A perceptive and heartfelt little movie, with some good laughs and excellent, naturalistic performances.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s