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  Saint Frances Babysitter Blues
Year: 2019
Director: Alex Thompson
Stars: Kelly O'Sullivan, Ramona Edith Williams, Charin Alvarez, Lily Mojekwu, Max Lipchitz, Jim True-Frost, Mary Beth Fisher, Rebekah Ward, Laura T. Fisher, Francis Guinan, Braden Crothers, Bradley Grant Smith, Roger Welp, Meighan Gerachis
Genre: Comedy, DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bridget (Kelly O'Sullivan) is at a party when it sinks in: she has done nothing with her life and she's halfway through her thirties already. Instead of allowing this realisation to resonate, she goes home with a guy who takes an interest in her, and they have sex; she doesn't use protection because she does not believe she will ever get pregnant, and that it's really the guy's responsibility not to impregnate women. The next morning, they awaken in her bed lightly smeared with her menstruation, she has quite heavy periods and as bad luck would have it, this started last night. As she sets out to her job interview for a nanny position, she thinks little more of her insides...

Of course, Bridget has fallen pregnant, and we are intended to look down on her for being so irresponsible - if that was all there was to Saint Frances, it would not be much of an experience, we get enough of that in other media, but O'Sullivan, who wrote the screenplay, and Alex Thompson, who directed, wanted to be a lot more uplifting than that, so Bridget was forced to go on a redemptive journey whether she wanted to or not. What was refreshing was how unapologetic she was about her failings, despite her name she was no Bridget Jones obsessing over getting a boyfriend, settling down, juggling this with a career, nope, this Bridget wasn't that bothered.

Or at least she didn't think she was, but even though she gets an abortion pretty quickly, and has never considered having children seriously, there is something stirring in her mind, could it be actual conscience? The sense that she may be responsible for herself brought out in a responsibility for others? Apparently that's what a nanny job will do for you, and getting in close proximity with little Frances (Ramona Edith Williams, just the right side of precocious) means Bridget starts to get broody. But again, not in some cliched romcom way, this was not one of those, for you had to take into account this was a very twenty-first century set of relationships the characters were having.

Frances' parents are a couple of lesbians, Annie (Lily Mojekwu) and Maya (Charin Alvarez) who are keen to be as modern as possible in their childrearing, but that includes having careers; they have just had a new baby that Maya has to take care of, but Bridget will come in useful around the house looking after Frances. Our heroine is doing this purely for the money, and because it seems a lot easier than her previous waitressing job, which is probably not the best of motives for being a nanny, but this was a comedy as well as a drama and her clueless approach to raising Frances, or contributing anyway, was part of where the humour developed. It did contain some genuine laugh out loud moments, but after a while the dramatic business tended to dominate, though that was no bad thing.

With a set up this novel, Saint Frances ran the risk of ending up gimmicky and hard to get along with, but while Bridget was not the warmest of people, initially and for the first half of the movie, maybe more, the "from the mouths of babes" saying began to apply to the child who managed to land some home truths to her nanny without it coming across as too clunky. This was not Look Who's Talking by any means, and we can be thankful for that, so the bond between this all at sea adult and this bright but almost neglected little girl was as believable as it could be given all the palaver going on around them. Every so often it seemed O'Sullivan had an agenda she wanted to push, but she would undercut any stridency with her jokes and character observations, so the modern family is just as prone to issues as any conventional one, indicating of course that there are universalities to bringing kids into the world and keeping them safe, healthy and happy no matter who or where you are. You hesitate to call it heartwarming, it was a shade too prickly for that, but it did engage. Music by Quinn Tsan.

[The film is released more widely on 10 July on:

Curzon Home Cinema.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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