Academy Award winner Melissa Leo gives a fierce and restrained performance as Francine, a woman struggling to find her place in a downtrodden lakeside town after leaving behind a life in prison. Taking a series of jobs working with animals, Francine turns away others and instead seeks intimacy in the most unlikely of places. Gritty, elliptical, and voyeuristic, Francine is a portrait of a near-silent misfit and her fragile first steps in an unfamiliar world. -- (C) Official Site
as Pet Store Manager
as Prison Guard
as Prison Administrator
as Cab Driver
as DMV Clerk
as Customer with Hamste...
as Customer with Bird
as Older Man
as Pastor's Wife
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Critic Reviews for Francine
While it's audacious on the part of the filmmakers (and of Leo) to keep Francine at arm's length from us, it makes the film a frustrating experience.
Francine portrays a woman on the socioeconomic margins and the sort of fiscal cliff that personalizes the phrase no politician can avoid these days.
Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky, documentary makers trying their hand at drama, inspire a certain voyeuristic fascination toward the character but rarely sympathy.
Melissa Leo plays her without inflection, giving us no instructions about what our opinion should be. It is a brave performance, an act of empathy with a sad woman.
"Francine" is a small, detailed character study that never evolves into anything more.
Caught up in its own self-satisfied metaphor, its blank canvas and broadly sketched melancholic tones an empty vessel for those who would automatically turn the personal into the political.
Petered out the perhaps promise of a psychological study or horror flick, halfway through 'Francine' nothing is left.
Leo provides a seasoned, lived-in naturalism that is as rarely displayed on screen as it is potent.
Numbing, uninvolving portrait of an ex-con as an animal-loving zombie.
What with the unexciting hand-held camerawork, and the off-putting script and lead performance, "Francine" remains as frustrating as its inscrutable title character.
A little aimlessness never makes the film seem overlong ... not at a brief 74 minutes, and the immersive, quiet desperation of Leo's performance more than compensates, as does the directors' keen eye for detail.
Francine is so minimalist that it has to rely almost entirely on Leo for solidity, and it would be a far stronger film if it supported and framed her more effectively.
With no back story, scant dialogue and few narrative and psychological clues, "Francine" is an unsparing study of profound isolation.
There are no concrete answers to be found at the end of this cryptic protagonist's journey, yet we can't help but follow every move she makes.
Francine eventually abandons its opacity for queasy-making cruelty.
In a character study of an ex-con who gives her heart and mind to animals rather than people, Melissa Leo's risky performance is ultimately framed with a disappointing, distanced pity.
A glum but tenderly observed micro-portrait of a woman struggling to re-enter society after being released from prison.
Francine marks the start of a promising career for the filmmakers, more than anything else demonstrating their eye for small moments.
In this spare, striking drama, Melissa Leo's unerringly contained performance provides shattering insight into a woman powerless to resist the destabilizing forces of her life.
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