'Saint Frances' Review: A Breathtaking Look At The Weirdness Of Womanhood [Denver Film Festival]

This review contains mild spoilers for Saint FrancesThirty-four-year-old Bridget (Kelly O'Sullivan) is figuring it out as she goes. She's single, stuck in a dead-end job, and not quite sure what she wants to do with her life. After listening to a creep at a party blather on about all the things he's achieved by the same age, Bridget decides to take life by the horns. But not before an awkward and incredibly relatable night with her now not-boyfriend, Jace (Max Lipchitz). A series of quick events will result in two facts in Bridget's life: she's facing an unwanted pregnancy because a lot of sex-ed still fails to teach us that pulling out isn't a viable method of birth control, and she's about to take a new job as a nanny for a lesbian couple. What unfolds throughout the rest of Saint Frances is an exploration in just how inherently lonely being a woman can be, and how using our words with one another can actively help combat that loneliness.Mentions of loneliness might make you suspect that the film has this sort of melancholic air to it, but nothing could be further from the truth. Saint Frances is actually quite funny. Some of the laughter is from discomfort or a sort of awkward relatability, but there's also just some genuinely good humor woven into difficult conversations like abortion, postpartum depression, and talking about our feelings. What takes the film to the next level is its ability to have those conversations without invalidating the experiences of any of the folks invoived. Bridget finds herself bound to two women who have made fundamentally different life choices than she has, but at no point does she question Maya (Charin Alvarez) and Annie's (Lily Mojekwu) decision. She watches Maya slowly find herself eaten alive by her depression but never once challenges her choice to be a mother. She does, however, find herself living in terror that the women will judge her for her decision to have an abortion. Even if she does struggle with admitting that to herself. There's an endless amount of heart from every character on screen, but perhaps none so much as the film's title character; Frances (Ramona Edith Williams). Frances is a firecracker whose narrative purpose is to help Bridget grow, but she does so much more. Young Ramona will steal your heart the first moment you meet her, and you'll realize far too late into the game that she's never giving it back.Saint Frances grabs women by the face and tells them in a fierce but supportive whisper that they're not alone. It takes conversations that many girls never hear spoken out loud and literally screams them from the rooftops. Kelly O'Sullivan's script tackles the painfully awkward and the deeply taboo with the amount of ease that helps you forget that you're talking about something that many folks would rarely whisper about. It's a bright light on how messy, complicated, and weird womanhood is. For that, it deserves all the attention in the world./Film Rating: 9 out of 10