Posted on Friday, September 7th, 2012 by Russ Fischer
If you’re in a good mood and want to preserve it, might want to put watching this trailer off for later. Francine stars Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Treme) as a recent ex-con who isn’t having the best time adjusting to life after prison. The trailer doesn’t give too many details of just what she does after getting out of the joint, but that seems to be true of the film, too. What it does do is present a series of relatively quiet scenes that quickly lead to the impression that things are really very wrong. In spite of the relatively banal content of most of this footage, the end result is an impressive sense of unease.
I’m always interested in seeing stories about how people integrate into society after leaving prison, because I think we continually wrestle with the idea of prison as punishment versus redemption. I don’t know if that’s quite the territory that Francine explores, but as it seems clear that the character’s problems are expressed in part by an inability to find a new place in society, I think it’s probably close enough. And I love the sense of foreboding that this trailer conjures, even as I wonder if the movie will be able to follow through on it.
Francine played Berlin and SXSW this year, and will open theatrically September 12th with a one week run at MoMA in New York City. A national expansion will follow.
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After serving time in prison, Francine settles down in small-town North America. Through a series of temporary jobs, she tries to regain a foothold in society. However, this security proves just as elusive as the connections she tries to forge with people in the town. As her human relationships falter, Francine looks to animals for support, a development that leads her in a tragically wrong direction.
Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky’s fiction debut Francine focuses on the title figure during a brief chapter in her life. Oscar winner Melissa Leo conveys the longings and woes of the distressed protagonist with remarkable precision, delivering a performance of tremendous force. The narrative provides no psychological backstory, and yet we grow increasinglyclose to this fragile person, whose life does not have a clear path but rather consists of a series of emotional states. As the protagonist moves through the film’s impressive locations, her path through life is much like an orbiting satellite: detached, lonely and ultimately destined to crash.