Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan), who is 34 years old and works as a server, jumps at the opportunity to get a job as a nanny. The little one’s name is Frances (Ramona Edith Williams), she’s six years old, and, aside from being quite a handful, she’s cute as pie. Bridget has been going through some pretty big life decisions of late and finds herself increasingly involved in Frances’ family life. The birth of a new baby has put a strain on Frances’ moms, Maya (Charin Alvarez) and Annie’s (Lily Mojekwu), relationship.
Now and again, there comes a movie that opens your heart to its characters and surprises you with its story trajectory. ‘Saint Frances’ does just that and aside from having a truly winsome cast, marks an impressive feature debut from director Alex Thompson. The biggest name to come out of this, however, has to be Kelly O’Sullivan, who both wrote the script and plays its relatable, endearing lead, Bridget.
‘Saint Frances’ opens with a rather awkward sexual encounter, and rather than draw out the cringiness, the characters laugh it off. From there, you know you’re in for something different to say the Judd Apatow or Duplass brothers’ direction the film might have gone in. Though be warned, if you’re uncomfortable with period talk, there’s a lot more to come.
While certain characterisations lean into “types”, such as Bridget’s dad having health problems and her mom nagging about when she’s going to have a baby, what’s really striking is the humanity of the characters, and that’s not just Bridget and Frances, but Maya, Annie and Jace (Max Lipchitz) too. They all make mistakes and are struggling in their own way to get back on track. Your heart especially pours out for Maya, impressively realised by Charin Alvarez, as you feel for how much she’s struggling with her newborn.
There’s a lot of hope and joy in the movie too with a number of adorable sequences, for example, when Bridget and Frances put on makeup, dress up and dance around to rock music; or where Jace takes care of Bridget when she’s feeling low; and one badass scene that starts with Maya initially being shamed by a woman for breast feeling, but ends dignified. Another emotional sequence ends with Bridget tearfully exclaiming "I don't even know why I'm crying, I'm an agnostic feminist!" The movie deals with some really big topics like abortion, post-partum natal depression, faith, and family troubles, and does so beautifully in its honesty. ‘Saint Frances’ is a special, precious film.