Saint Frances-A Much Needed Story of Love Regarding A Topic Filled With Hate
A heartwarming movie about abortion that doesn't take political sides and makes me understand what it's like to be a woman in at least some sort of capacity? I never thought I'd say this but sign me up! I am the grouchiest S.O.B. when it comes to trying to relate to other characters where my sense of empathy can range from nil to slim depending on the material. Within the first line of dialogue, I understood what Writer/Star Kelly O'Sullivan was saying when she casually expresses at a social gathering, her feeling of irrelevance relating to her age in the world. The heavy-handed line is delivered with a dry humor that is neither combative to an audience nor forceful in comedic delivery. It's a simple sentiment that many in my generation feel.
In the age of social media, we are surrounded by the fake lives of others who display their newborn baby pictures as prized trophies to hang on the wall to impress others. What about the thirty some odd olds who are still single, living in debt, never married, never had kids? Where is their representation in film? Sure they have it but are often treated as a punchline. "Saint Frances" is a film that shares the same sentiment of a Hal Ashby film that focusses on the recluses of society.
When taking the job of a nanny for a lesbian couple, Bridget (O'Sullivan) becomes an inadvertent part of the family. While life is growing in front of her with a newborn child that she must monitor along with a little girl, an accidental pregnancy leads to an abortion in Bridget's professional life. The thematic balance of life and death is not haphazard in the film. The abortion is not treated as a horrific questionable choice. It's just an event in the movie that happens then the plot continues without pondering on "is she going to get an abortion? Is she not?"
In Bridget's professional relationship with her boss, a mother of two, Maya (Charin Alvarez) and her nine older daughter Frances (Ramona Edith Williams), Bridget discovers that her impact on their lives makes her grasp how she's special. It has nothing to do with economic achievements or bearing a child of one's own. It has to do with going out of your way, earning the love of others. I remember becoming an uncle for the first time last year. There was no accomplishment in it, but the affection I immediately had for my nephew was euphoric. I've never felt so much like a kid again taking care of him when he needs help, feeding him, taking him out on activities, even changing his diaper. It almost makes me want to be a father like Bridget understands that one day she could be a great mother. The bond she develops with Frances is absorbent. Frances can stand on her own, yes she plays the stereotypical cute kid but isn't written as one. Frances asks challenging questions to Bridget unbeknownst to her the cruelty in her inquiries, much like any other child. She also provides the insight a young innocent can contribute to an adult who requires words of kindness in times of need.
Through it's beautiful, there are some occasional stumbles. The sentimentality of the film can at times reach Spielbergian heights of eye-rolling gooeyness. Particularly in a confessional booth scene where I seemed to be the only guy in the audience that had a problem with it. I'm aware the entire title of the film is based on that scene, but it spells out everything we already know. Secondly, there's a character in the movie who's plotline could have been cut entirely but due to the actor's notoriety above the rest of the unknown cast, it'll stay in order to win the film distribution. Despite these unbalances "Saint Frances" is a film that is not only one that anybody in their thirties can relate to, but a loving picture about abortion that sees both sides that's essential to see in these times of incredulous despair. "Saint Frances" provides a beacon of optimism that we so desperately need. Love thy neighbor for she is unique just like you.