Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Francine

Numbing, uninvolving portrait of an ex-con as an animal-loving zombie.

Sept 12, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1362918-Francine_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

If minimal cinema is to your liking, Francine is definitely your cuppa. Melissa Leo plays the title character, an ex-con readjusting to life. Her grimy peregrinations take her through a variety of low-paying jobs such as pet-store employee, waitress and veterinarian’s assistant, none of which she excels at particularly. She does, however, possess a true fondness for animals, and soon her modest house is filled with stray cats and dogs.

Married filmmakers Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky make their feature debut with this rigorously unembellished character study that will strike some as impressively stark and Bressonian, and others, like me, as one big yawn. The film’s mere 74 minutes crawl by like a Zen snail’s trail, and one is reminded of how much more color and excitement could be packed into a running time like this by so many more watchable Pre-Code epics. Although the camera is resolutely trained on Francine, we never really find out what makes this uncommunicative, zombie-like woman tick.

Leo, as always, is an impressive actress, throwing herself into the un-cosmeticized demands of this rigorous role, from an early scene in which she appears naked in a prison shower. But this reviewer yearned for the insight and emotional observation which fueled her much more involving turn in Frozen River, in which she also played a woman oppressed by society but had so much more to work with.

The filmmakers here favor wordlessness, as Francine falls into situations ranging from heartless sex at the polo ground to a drunken lesbian encounter with a religious proselytizer. When she randomly comes upon a mediocre, head-banging rock group, she stands transfixed by the “music” for a small eternity that, again, may seem character-wise and profound, but kills the movie dead.


Film Review: Francine

Numbing, uninvolving portrait of an ex-con as an animal-loving zombie.

Sept 12, 2012

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1362918-Francine_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

If minimal cinema is to your liking, Francine is definitely your cuppa. Melissa Leo plays the title character, an ex-con readjusting to life. Her grimy peregrinations take her through a variety of low-paying jobs such as pet-store employee, waitress and veterinarian’s assistant, none of which she excels at particularly. She does, however, possess a true fondness for animals, and soon her modest house is filled with stray cats and dogs.

Married filmmakers Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky make their feature debut with this rigorously unembellished character study that will strike some as impressively stark and Bressonian, and others, like me, as one big yawn. The film’s mere 74 minutes crawl by like a Zen snail’s trail, and one is reminded of how much more color and excitement could be packed into a running time like this by so many more watchable Pre-Code epics. Although the camera is resolutely trained on Francine, we never really find out what makes this uncommunicative, zombie-like woman tick.

Leo, as always, is an impressive actress, throwing herself into the un-cosmeticized demands of this rigorous role, from an early scene in which she appears naked in a prison shower. But this reviewer yearned for the insight and emotional observation which fueled her much more involving turn in Frozen River, in which she also played a woman oppressed by society but had so much more to work with.

The filmmakers here favor wordlessness, as Francine falls into situations ranging from heartless sex at the polo ground to a drunken lesbian encounter with a religious proselytizer. When she randomly comes upon a mediocre, head-banging rock group, she stands transfixed by the “music” for a small eternity that, again, may seem character-wise and profound, but kills the movie dead.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Calvary
Film Review: Calvary

An invidious, enervating piece of work blessedly relieved by Brendan Gleeson’s empathetic portrayal of a worldly priest confronting the sins of the world. More »

Rich Hill
Film Review: Rich Hill

This study of teens trying to make it in a very depressed and depressing heartland would have benefited from more hard info and less pictorial meandering. More »

Child of God
Film Review: Child of God

Depravity abounds in this James Franco-directed adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel, which despite a committed performance by Scott Haze proves a one-note endurance test. More »

Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
Film Review: Cabin Fever: Patient Zero

A return to the stripped–down ferocity of Eli Roth's no-frills 2002 shocker, Cabin Fever: Patient Zero (which the title suggests is a prequel, though it doesn't really feel like one) lacks originality but delivers the body-horror goods far better than genre minimalist Ti West's Cabin Fever 2: Spring Break (2009), a broadly campy spin on ’70s high-school horror clichés. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Get On Up
Film Review: Get On Up

Chadwick Boseman is sensational in this multi-faceted portrait of troubled, pioneering soul-music giant James Brown. More »

Guardians of the Galaxy review
Film Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

With Marvel’s backing, cult filmmaker James Gunn blasts off for the stars and takes audiences along for a wild, funny ride. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here