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'Saint Frances' Approaches Reality With Eyes Wide Open


There’s a moment in Saint Frances when the mother of our main character, Bridget, reveals something startling about how she felt when her daughter was a baby. Bridget’s shocked, but her mother expresses these are real feelings and thoughts women have, and they need to be talked about more so women know they’re normal, and that they’re not alone.


This is even more true for how many of these issues are dealt with in movies. I’ll be intentionally vague about exactly which issues because of how I experienced Saint Frances, not knowing much going in, and I liked how it unfolded. But movies have consistently done a very poor job addressing challenges and decisions women face—they’re usually brushed aside in a predictable way that rarely reflects the real world.


And this is part of the excellence of Saint Frances—it tackles these things head on, knows they’re messy, and knows many, many women deal with them, whether they’re acknowledged or not. The movie’s written by Kelly O’Sullivan, who also plays Bridget as a rather aimless thirty-something who’s hired to nanny the daughter of two high-powered women—one of whom has maintained her career, while the other has given hers up in favor of having the couple’s second child, a weight that is clearly wearing on her heavily.


I found myself incredibly frustrated with what some of the characters do—or, more accurately, what they refuse to do. But this is good. People are terribly frustrating, and we all often do a bad job of acknowledging our own struggles. Saint Frances is one of far too few movies that approaches all of these realities with eyes wide open—but the fact that it does gives me hope for the future.


Saint Frances is available through Wichita’s Mamafilm Microcinema, at mama.film, with a portion of the rental fee going to support Mamafilm during this time when independent cinemas need all the help they can get.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.