Audiences at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival adored “Saint Frances,” a darkly comic tale of the messiness of womanhood that earned the fest’s Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, and a Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice. And with this film, there are actually two breakthrough voices: director Alex Thompson, and writer Kelly O’Sullivan, who also stars in the film as Bridget. Below, check out the film’s official trailer, which Oscilloscope Laboratories opens February 28 in New York.
Here’s the synopsis: “Flailing 34-four-year-old Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) finally catches a break when she meets a nice guy and lands a much-needed job nannying six-year-old Frances (played by a scene-stealing Ramona Edith-Williams). But an unwanted pregnancy introduces an unexpected complication. To make matters worse, she clashes with the obstinate Frances and struggles to navigate a growing tension between Frances’s moms. Amidst her tempestuous personal relationships, a reluctant friendship with Frances emerges, and Bridget contends with the inevitable joys and shit-shows of becoming a part of someone else’s family.”
Out of SXSW, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote, “Kelly O’Sullivan does double duty as writer and star of director Alex Thompson’s feature-length debut, the charming and bittersweet of Bridget, a young Chicago woman who scores a nanny gig for a lesbian couple shortly after getting an abortion. Those two events might seem disconnected, but as Bridget becomes more immersed in the couple’s domestic problems, her own anxieties find a new outlet in somebody else’s household.
“Whereas ‘Obvious Child’ delved into similar terrain, ‘Saint Frances’ goes beyond the abortion storyline to develop a more immersive character study that balances Bridget’s klutzy comedic antics with more serious, introspective undercurrents. It’s not a gamechanger, but “Saint Frances” is a smart, accessible crowdpleaser that bodes well for whatever its creative team does next.”
“Saint Frances” received strong reviews across the board, with Variety calling it “a courageous act of sharing from an essential new voice… exactly the kind of movie that patriarchal Hollywood has been conspiring to suppress all these years: one that takes a range of experiences — from menstruation to abortion to lesbian marriage — and confronts them head-on, not as scandalous, but as aspects of life that demand examination.”