Review: Saint Frances
by Julie Perez
Kelly O’Sullivan has crafted a beautiful and inspiring story of resilience with her film Saint Frances and though often too real to face, this film serves as a wonderful reminder to survive amidst the chaos.
Saint Frances follows thirty-four-year-old Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) just as her life is slowly starting to come together. At the beginning of the film, Bridget meets Jace (Max Lipchitz) a nice guy who seems to have the best intentions just as she lands a job as a nanny during the summer but life comes at you fast and soon Bridget is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy just as she finds herself constantly clashing with six-year-old Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams). Saint Frances tackles many topics and each of them could have easily gotten lost within the storyline. Yet Kelly O’Sullivan, who not only starred but also wrote the screenplay, found a way to allow each story to have enough breathing room.
When Bridget makes the decision to have an abortion, the decision is handled with care and sensitivity while also giving you the reality that women deal with when making this decision. Some scenes are difficult to watch but none of it is done gratuitously. The conversations that Bridget has with the Jace are nuanced and complicated while cementing the fact that this was Bridget’s decision to make. The abortion isn’t used as a way to navigate the story, it periodically shows up in scenes that can be hard to watch but it doesn’t lead the journey that Bridget takes in this film. Which maybe is the biggest gift that Kelly gives us with her film; abortion does not define a woman and we need to stop treating it as if it does, it’s always just part of a story that is much bigger than that.
Saint Frances tackles homophobia, postpartum depression and the undeniable pressure to get your life together once you hit your 30’s. Though every single storyline feels important and necessary, the heart of this film truly lies with Ramona Edith-Williams and her portrayal of Frances. A scene-stealer would be an understatement of epic proportions, Ramona’s energy flows all throughout this film and it allows for levity during the tense scenes. The chemistry between Kelly O’Sullivan and Ramona Edith-Williams is palpable and forces you to invest in their relationship immediately.
I laughed, I got angry and that last scene between Bridget and Frances absolutely broke me. Saint Frances serves as a beautiful depiction of the strength that women carry. It is a celebration of human connection, it allows for the audience to root for the messy and often lost main character and it finds the light within the darkness. Saint Frances feels like a necessary film and I hope it finds an audience amidst the current disarray of the world.