Saint Frances

Streaming as part of EDFILMFEST AT HOME brought to you by EIFF and Curzon Home Cinema (CHC)

At first, I thought I was going to have a problem with this film. Movies that feature precocious children are usually among my least favourite, (where do they go when they get older? Do they grow up to be just like everybody else, or are there enclaves of precocious adults dotted around the world?) Combining this with the first world problems of a middle class, early thirties, Harry Potter reading white woman who initially comes across as entirely self-obsessed did little to give me hope.

However, as Alex Thompson’s debut feature progresses, and Kelly O’Sullivan in her dual role of scriptwriter and Bridget – the aforementioned thirtysomething – engages with child Frances (Ramona Edith Williams) and her parents Maya (Charin Alvarez) and Annie (Lily Mojekwu) we are presented with a story with considerable depth.

Failed writer Bridget leaves her dead-end job waiting tables to take the position of nanny to Frances. There’s a new baby in the house, and Maya has her hands full with him, while Annie works long hours as a lawyer. Bridget has to work hard to win Frances over, but their relationship progresses into friendship as time goes on.

Which is more than Bridget’s relationship with Jace (Max Lipchitz) does. He’s there for her, accompanying her when she goes to the abortion clinic and asking little from her, even though she denies they’re in a relationship at all.

One of the film’s strengths is that it does not shy away from the mechanics of being human – there’s a fair amount of blood, be it periods or the aftermath of the termination. Ant it addresses the mental strains of female existence – Maya’s post-natal depression, Annie’s guilt at not being home for her, although as sole breadwinner she needs to keep working, and all the little day-to-day upsets that throw everyone’s life off-kilter. 

There’s no neatly wrapped up happy ending to give closure; this is just a story of people getting by as best they can, trying their hardest to be what they think they are supposed to be, all the while working at keeping their heads above water and showing each other a little kindness.

And it works.

(To be released on 10th July on Curzon, Sky, Virgin, Amazon iTunes, BT and more)

Jim Welsh

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