Francine is a woman just out of jail, having served time for an unspecified crime. She moves into a cottage in a small rural town, takes a job in a pet store, befriends a woman who invites her to a local community church meeting, and there’s even the possibility of a romantic date with a man she meets there. All these things would suggest that Francine is reclaiming her life, but she is clearly in a fragile mental state after years of incarceration. She takes in the stray animals that gravitate to her, and appears to care more about them than she does about herself, ultimately putting her health, sanity and freedom at risk for their sake. Francine is a small wonder of a film, a spare, wildly original and elegiac character study that carries integrity and emotional weight. Melissa Leo gives an incredible performance in the title role, one completely lacking vanity or ego.
Dir. Brian M Cassidy & Melanie Shatzky, USA, Canada, 2012, 74 min.
Cast: Katie Stern, Melissa Leo, Keith Leonard, Victoria Charkut.
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