Starring: Kelly O’Sullivan, Ramona Edith Williams, Charin Alvarez
Director: Alex Thompson
Running Time: 101 mins
Saint Frances is an American film about a 34 year-old woman who discovers an unlikely friendship with the six year-old girl she babysits, all while coping with the aftermath of an abortion of an unplanned pregnancy.
This is such a wonderful film. As heartwarming as it is dramatically captivating, Saint Frances offers a beautifully intimate and grounded view into womanhood and motherhood, painted through the world-weary but still innocent eyes of a 30-something woman with still more to discover.
It’s tempting to look at Saint Frances as a coming-of-age movie, and while it’s certainly true that the film deals with personal development, its themes are very different to what we’re used to from coming-of-age movies relating to teens and 20-somethings.
Saint Frances heavily focuses on the unglamorous and undramatic parts of life, following a 34 year-old woman in the aftermath of an abortion and discovering the trials of caring for a child through her role as a nanny. In that, this film is a whole lot more grounded and honest than many coming-of-age movies, with relatively little focus on romance and the concept of ‘finding one’s place in the world’.
That fresh perspective on life is what makes Saint Frances such an endearing and emotionally captivating watch, particularly given the frank way it deals with the ageing process of a woman in her 30s, as well as a woman in her 50s, who plays a very large role in the story at hand.
Kelly O’Sullivan plays Bridget, who works as a nanny for middle-aged mothers Maya and Annie (played by Charin Alvarez and Lily Mojekwu respectively). Bridget’s relationship with the two, in particular Maya, is a riveting insight into how people continue to be challenged by life and discover more about the world, no matter what their age is.
Bridget learns from Maya’s troubles as a struggling middle-aged mother, and Maya learns through those struggles herself. Through their shared difficulties and an affection for young Frances, Maya’s six year-old daughter, the pair bond deeply.
It’s not the friendship that the film bills as the main focus, as Bridget and Frances’ heartwarming bond offers a little more levity, but the relationship between Bridget and Maya is by far the most thematically rich of the film, offering up a powerful and enthralling insight into the trials and realities of womanhood.
All of this is brought to life in beautiful fashion by the performances from Kelly O’Sullivan and Charin Alvarez, who really embody the film’s message about discovering more about the world as you grow older. The pair don’t play up stereotypes about their age bracket, but give honest and emotionally intimate performances that make them a brilliant encapsulation of the film’s core ideas.
With some wonderful humour and a whole lot of heart, Saint Frances delivers a story of the highest level throughout. Thematically rich, touching and beautifully honest, the film is an enthralling watch from start to finish, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.9 overall.