Complex Life Lessons (Review: SAINT FRANCES
Bridget (Kelly O'Sullivan) is not your typical nanny. She isn't one of those people who fawns over children. Her quiet but quick-witted nature is not the typical personality you would expect to pair with a 6-year old, but in director Alex Thompson's film, SAINT FRANCES, she is still hired by Maya and Annie (Charin Alvarez and Lil Mojekwu) to look after their daughter, Frances (Ramona Edith Williams) while Annie works and Maya focuses on their newborn son, Wally. To be fair, she only receives the job because her friend had the job previously and suggested her, and the woman who they hired instead was overbearing and Frances didn't like her. Enter Bridget in her awkwardly convenient timing.
Bridget is getting an abortion.
While she goes through the steps of terminating her pregnancy, she begins caring for Frances, learning the ins and outs of the nannying gig. Frances, outspoken and sometimes hotheaded, is a good distraction for Bridget from the rest of her life. But pretty soon, her nannying job becomes more than a distraction. As Bridget connects with Frances, and her mother, Maya as she suggests postpartum depression, she begins to understand what it would be like to be a mother.
The story is wonderful, in that it doesn't shove motherhood down its viewers' throats or, alternatively, demonize it. Bridget leads us through an exploration of the ups and downs of this new world, the uncertainty and the joy and the moments of desperation all in a succinct hour and forty minutes. The film thrives in its gray area moments - for instance, Maya is Catholic and Annie is atheist, and they find middle ground; and Bridget learns a lot about the disparity of relationships through two very different men that she dates. There are a lot of complex lessons and emotions packed into SAINT FRANCES, though the story is still simple enough to sit back and enjoy.
The characters are vibrant and real, allowing an instant connection with them, and the actors do a fantastic job of staying true to life. O'Sullivan is the perfect relatable everywoman, and Williams is possibly the most adorable child actor to grace the screen.
If anything, check SAINT FRANCES out for the shades of gray it brings to a pretty targeted subject in many communities. And know that you'll finish the movie with a whole new family full of characters with whom you won't want to part.