Frances Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ October 8, 2012
A beautiful actress with a rebellious streak is plagued by perceived mental illness.
Jessica Lange, who received a well-deserved Oscar nomination for this role, delivers a gut-wrenching performance in the title role. Her free-spirited portrayal of healthy Frances is tempered by the film's plot, which puts her through the barbarity that we once called medicine in mental health. Sam Shepard is also quite strong as one of Frances's few supporting friends.
It may be that the film can't fashion a believable narrative out of the facts, but the idea that Frances would go back to her mother after many of the events the film depicts defies all we know about the character, and her meager excuse that "She's still my mother" in the words of Rocky the Flying Squirrel "Just doesn't wash."
Overall, regardless of its plot-related flaws, you should see this film if only for Lange who plumbs emotional depths to produce a tragically wounded character.
Super Reviewer
½ January 28, 2007
Wonderful biopic of the late 1930s Hollywood star Frances Farmer that tells a little known yet horrific, story but is over-Hollywoodised. Jessica Lange makes a miraculous job in playing Frances with paranoia in her rolling eyes and makes her look-like a madwoman indeed. And I think Kim Stanley who played France's mother, Lillian, is perfectly. The movie shows how someone can be completely destroyed by misunderstandings, enlarged by a ridiculous amount of media attention.
This is truly a very discomforting look at how the human spirit can be totally crushed by tragic, though changeable, circumstances.
Super Reviewer
½ August 8, 2010
The film starts as a standard biopic, charting the success of actress Frances Farmer in all her mundane glory. There are scenes of her atheism, lack of fear towards becoming a social outcast when she journeys to Communist Russia, and a very quick rise to prominence at a major studio. These are the trivial aspects to the rebellious Farmer, not wanting to be labeled a Hollywood starlet, but instead a Broadway actress, even starring in a play while staying out of the press' spotlight. It's when she becomes blacklisted by her former Hollywood studio and forced to leave the stage for low budget B-movies that Farmer cracks, leading to arrests on the charge of assault and battery, trying to force the men keeping her from doing what she wants to look at her as outspoken. Still, Farmer's antics become outrageous and erratic, screaming at police officers, psychiatrists, and her own mother. Her exploits are spread across the papers, and her only recourse seems to be more screaming and physical violence towards everyone around her. In these instances there is an element of over the top Hollywood spin on the film, to create more drama. The thing that makes this film amazing, is Farmer's relationship with her mother, who continually admits her to filthy mental hospitals, from which her daughter runs away with her longtime boyfriend, Harry. In the final part of the film, we are finally shown an act that diminishes everything Farmer strode for: independence, her own voice, her own life. It's taken away, and replaced by mild temperament and neutral stance. It's quite a powerful scene, and anyone who watches will be terrified by society and their lengths to keep outspokenness in the Dark Ages. Dramatic and wild, Frances is hard to swallow, but captivating to watch.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2007
Frances left me feeling (obviously not as) torn as Frances Farmer herself in watching it. On the one hand I praise it for Jessica Lange's powerhouse performance as the fiery Farmer, which is reason alone enough to watch Frances. Then on the other end of the spectrum the production values on this movie age it horrible and I'm pretty sure the set designer has or had glaucoma. Frances is also an incredibly sad movie and for as good as it is, the subject matter, last 20 minutes and running time make it such a goddamn bear to get through. And what's more difficult to deal with concerning this movie is that I've dated women more batshit crazy then Farmer was made out to be and she's the one that gets lobotomized. Life's definitely not fair, but its more sad...
Super Reviewer
September 12, 2008
"frances" is a flick based on 1930s rebel actress frances farmer whose life and great potentiality were wasted horridly in mental institution. (raped, marred and lobotomized.)and "frances" is obviously the homage to the un-compromising individuality of frances farmer who lived beyond her time, a sound proof of social intolerance to outrageous candidness on woman. and there's a great sense of anachronism in the character of frances farmer who propels her tale of "one flew over cuckoo's nest" or female james dean way too early in this world.

once a feministic author(possibly simone du bouvir) utters that society holds an enormous grudge against the woman who possesses both talent and beauty in the same time. (worse off, if she also has the edgy "IT") such woman is doomed to be ruptured by patriarchal society. beauty makes her the object of covetous desire for men, but her ego keeps her from being the willing puppet for chauvinistic sex commodity and hostility aroused around. then a misdemeanor leaves you into being diagnosed as schizophrenic, and you're F**KED.

it takes gutsy pride to announce oneself as an atheist in public speech competition at the time frances farmer lived, and she even earns a prize as well as notoriety for it in her adolescence, a teenage girl who dares to shout out "god is not there!"

then avidly ambitious frances shifts her aspiration from writing to acting since it's more immediate cannon for her spunk and wits. with her porcelain skin and statuesque looks, she reaches hollywood stardom which she rebuffs for its lack of depth, and it infuriates the mgm studio when she decides to nullify her movie contract for stage.

her life begins to collapse when her beloved stage director, whom she was having an affair with, doublecross her together with the studio, dismissing her with an informative note about his wife's arrival. this event of heart-break detonates the frances' explosive nature then it leads to the accusation of mental illness. her doom ensues.

firstly, she tries to offend the police officers who rudely abducts her from her private bathroom as well as the press by claiming her occupation is "c***s**ker". her proficiency of verbal defense/offense sinks her into even more severe discrimination. secondly, her rebellion against her overbearing mother who reports her whereabouts to the mad house, isolates her further. thirdly, the injustice of mental institution is sickeningly exploitative, and in one scene, she's ravished by numerous soldiers who buy off the guardian for their filthy privilege. "20 bucks to screw a movie star" is simply too harsh to endure. naked twisted bodies hang around grimly, an macabre image of grotesque. in the end, frances still says "i'm still me! it's one thing you cannot take away from me!!"

apparently this movie is presented in the perspective of frances' mind, the angst of a wailing individual, and everything seems like others' fault and social wreckage over her incorruptible soul. but i cannot help but wonder why other female stars in her time could still glitter and also remain individualistic without suffering so? (garbo, dietrich, crawford, davis, stanwyck..all are female avant-gardists with the sharp edge.) so why can't she be one of them?

primarily, farmer's family background is the bourgeois who settle in cozy suburbia, well-sheltered without the hard-boiled survival instincts. contradictorily, she ain't ordinary enough to mold herself in such environment. meanwhile her distinguished beauty makes people indulge her brittleness too easily. (beautiful women always tend to be spoilt. think about your other female classmates in high school.) she cannot take pressure and also too willfully idealistic to reconcile. if she ain't beautiful, she wouldn't be a sudden success. if she ain't beautiful, she wouldn't induce sexual ravages, right?

it might be inappropriate to deem "frances" as avenging outcry of individuality, and it may be more like a dirge of american dream for female individuality. you're taught in childhood, men are born equal, and everyone has his right for public speech. BUT you forget it merely means MEN.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2007
a searing performance by jessica lange of a truly sad and tortured woman makes this profoundly downbeat film worth watching.
Super Reviewer
August 28, 2013
Jessica Lange is really terrific as Frances Farmer. Hers is a story that I was not familiar with and was glad to have known about it afterwards. A true rebel with heart.
½ May 25, 2014
A bit long and incorrect with some key facts, this movie could be titled "Trust no one, especially your mother." All in all a solid film, although its cynicism can be cringe inducing at times.
July 1, 2011
Writing and direction were somewhere between Lifetime Movies and Hallmark Hall of Fame. But Jessica Lange as little-remembered actress Frances Farmer and Kim Stanley as her mother are beyond reproach. This movie is worth watching just for their performances.
Super Reviewer
½ January 21, 2008
This is a biopic about actress Frances Farmer. Although she was somewhat wild, I didn't think she was mentally ill.

Her story is notable because she was committed to a psychiatric institution by her mother because she didn't adhere to how her mother thought she should live.

She ended up getting invasive therapies such as insulin shock therapy, ECT and a lobotomy. It was fascinating and barbaric look at psychiatry in 1930s and 40s.
½ January 7, 2007
Intensly Haunting,Beautifulful Sad,lonely Heartbreaking performance by Ms.Lange,shows her acting chops,,yet compelling look at the wrong side of Fame & Hollywood, I've seen this from it's inial release in 1982 to many times on Video/DVd
½ July 2, 2007
I thought that Jessica Lange really did a nice job of playing this role of the 1930's film star Frances Farmer, and all of her struggles with her family, Holleywood and her problems with mental illness.
January 18, 2007
souch good music and jessica lange is so good in here. its a good movies. its about lobotomys. ts sad but its true! its about frances who loves things and has 2 lose things. its about losing freedom 2 feel cuz of this. its like it wants u 2 be emotional.
½ June 14, 2014
Curious psychological portrait which Jessica Lange delivered marvelously. quite hysterical, difficult, yet passionate, rebelious.
½ May 19, 2014
Amazing performances from Jessica Lange and Sam Shepard.
August 28, 2013
Jessica Lange is simply fabulous!!
½ August 10, 2013
1982 is such a competitive year for actresses, most prominently is Meryl Streep's critics-consensus "the all-time best female performance" and Oscar-crowning SOPHIE'S CHOICE (1982), which shamefully I haven't watched yet. Thus unfairly other contenders didn't stand any chance to beat her for that, but I never doubt that it was a nip-and-tuck between Streep and Lange in her tour-de-force sensation FRANCES.

Frances Farmer is hardly a household name among film boffins, she was a shooting star in the Tinseltown, whose defiant nature is destined for hemming herself as a fair game to the studio persecution, and the inhuman therapeutic treatments she receives in the mental hospitals are fierce indictment of our society's callous depersonalization under the aegis of medical remedy, although whether the lobotomy operation was executed still lacks of conviction.

Farmer exhibits her rebelliousness from the very start with her religion-defying speech "god was gone" when she was simply a high-schooler, a fearless doll under the high-handedness of her control freak mother (Stanley), Lange's rendition is begging description, an almost 30 years age-range and 140-minutes running time thoroughly proffers her an once-in-a-lifetime stretch to embody herself into this anguished persona, she minutely delineates how the life-force has been mercilessly ripped off her inch by inch and a belated and vehement face-off with her mother is the most theatrical moment and is the apotheosis of a heart-wrenching vicariousness, bravo to both Lange and Stanley!

Henry York (Shepard), a fictional character as the only man who truly understands Farmer and loves her unconditionally is the narrator, this concoction is a poetic license to add some solace in Farmer's wretched life and a considerable move for its audiences' sake, but meanwhile it barely serves a slush albeit Shepard and Lange work wonder together, the make-believe default also makes no room to expound why those two lovers could not be together, an over-romanticized tone may counteract the despondency of the film but it is also an untimely reminder of how close itself could be as brave as its leading lady Jessica Lange!
March 5, 2013
A fine bio-pic on Frances Farmer, that only occasionally veers into melodrama.
½ February 27, 2013
Heralded by an incredible performance from Jessica Lange, the film really makes us feel.
December 28, 2012
My favorite film for over 25yrs. Jessica Lange is superb.
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