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.
| Original Score: 2/4
Francine portrays a woman on the socioeconomic margins and the sort of fiscal cliff that personalizes the phrase no politician can avoid these days.
| Original Score: 3/4
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.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
"Francine" is a small, detailed character study that never evolves into anything more.
| Original Score: 3/5
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.
| Original Score: C-
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.
| Original Score: 7.2/10
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.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
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.
| Original Score: 6/10
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.
| Original Score: C+
With no back story, scant dialogue and few narrative and psychological clues, "Francine" is an unsparing study of profound isolation.
| Original Score: 4/5
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.
| Original Score: B-
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.
As a 74-minute snapshot of an American at the low end of the struggling 99%, it speaks far more eloquently than poverty statistics.