Written by: Kelly O’Sullivan
Starring: Kelly O’Sullivan, Ramona Edith Williams, Charin Alvarez, Lily Mojekwu, Max Lipchitz
When life appears to not be going your way, sometimes you just run into the right person at the ideal time to give some perspective. It can make you wonder what took so long for them to enter your life. All this and the sheer power of women make Saint Frances such essential and heartwarming viewing, as it takes a struggling millennial and puts them through a transformative experience.
With not much going on with her life, Bridget (Kelly O’Sullivan) takes the job of being a nanny for six-year-old Frances (Ramona Edith Williams) while one mother works and the other cares for their newborn boy. While nannying for young Frances, Bridget goes through her own emotional turmoil, as she gets an abortion from an unexpected pregnancy.
Unfulfilled millennial stories have begun to be released with more regularity because many of this age group have reached an era in their lives where the promises of their parent’s expectations and collegiate dreams are not panning out as well as expected. For a whole generation of individuals hoping they would save the world when they grew up, many have come to realize that life truly centers on finding a job to just pay the bills. Bridget finds herself in this situation where she had brilliance from a young age but has now comparatively not reached the levels of success she once thought she would achieve by this time. Now, she works as a nanny and just tries to maneuver through life as swiftly as possible. This makes the interaction she has with Frances so profound, as they’re both in very different segments of their lives but still find something utterly tangible to connect over.
Frances would not be described as an easy child to care for, as she drums to the rhythm of her own beat and has no issue telling other people exactly how she feels about them. It makes for a tough nannying situation for Bridget but incredibly cute for the audience. Frances does not care to wait for permission to do the things she wants and evidently makes the case for why there has been plenty of turnover in the position of being her nanny. Through it all, it gets distilled in a way that creates a universal message to unify her, Bridget, and the two mothers as they all struggle with their own issues.
Both writing and starring in the leading role, Kelly O’Sullivan has a clear idea of what this story wants to portray, particularly with the struggles of being a woman. She refuses to shy away from the struggles of everyday life and how unglamorous things can be. This gets seen with one of the mothers, Maya (Charin Alvarez). She fully embodies exhaustion in her demeanor and facial expressions every time she hears the newborn crying. This level of exhaustion digs into a larger issue she has been battling with ever since the birth of the baby, which thoroughly gets explored through conversations with Bridget as the film progresses. Having a baby has its high points and moments of elation, but it does not take away from the struggle of not getting as much sleep and how much that can drain even someone who stays at home all day with the child. The success of the film lies in its inauthenticity where none of it feels melodramatic or fake. These women deal with real issues and it plays out in believable ways in accordance with how the characters get written.
Bridget contends with not being in the place she wants to be, but also a recent abortion she needed to get because of a mishap with a recent hookup. Throughout the film, she deals with the fallout of the bleeding occurring after taking the medication necessary for the procedure and it outlines this lingering reminder of her action. It seeps into a deeper issue she’s battling that receives its proper emotional catharsis by the end. Additionally, while this character does not get the same attention as the female characters, the guy she hooked up with, Jace (Max Lipchitz) was simply the best. A nice guy with a strong level of understanding and sincerity with how much he likes Bridget really comes as a breath of fresh air. Just like in conversations he has with Bridget, he brings his level of kindness and knowing when to back off much like in the narrative. He becomes a real treat throughout as a measure of support for Bridget whenever she finds herself seeking it.
Unmistakably, the story revolves around these women and femininity brings such strength in the way they bond. The final moment between Bridget and Frances makes it explicitly clear as each of them has been made better from knowing each other in this specific junctures in their lives. Saint Frances works splendidly on so many levels to create a level of warmth even with startling moments when these characters get overwhelmed. The performances across the board were all tremendous with the standout being Ramona Edith Williams, as the young titular characters. Everything about this story comes to a satisfying conclusion and feels like a fulfilling experience by the time the credits roll.