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

20K on Earth
Film Review: 20,000 Days on Earth

Goth rocker turned postmodern bluesman Nick Cave turns himself inside-out for this transformative, electrifying documentary about the dark and often mundane wizardry of creativity. More »

Altina
Film Review: Altina

One artist's long, kaleidoscopic life is explored in detail in this comprehensive but somehow drab doc. More »

The Man on Her Mind
Film Review: The Man on Her Mind

Cutesiness carried to nauseating extremes. More »

Pirates
Film Review: The Pirates

For the undemanding, like Korean mass audiences who reportedly have made this the most-seen film in their history, this will serve. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

The Drop review
Film Review: The Drop

An excellent cast carries this familiar crime story that relies on revelations a little far-fetched. More »

Dolphin Tale 2
Film Review: Dolphin Tale 2

Handicapped dolphin Winter finds a new friend in this wholesome sequel to a family favorite. 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