Ever since Melissa Leo's Oscar nominated turn in 2008's Frozen River, her name has garnered mass attention from viewers whether the particular film deserves it or not. Francine, a story that showcases a woman who is forced to adapt to a life outside of a prison cell, is a prime example of a time when attention is not worthy.
Taking a unique approach to telling its story, directors Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky opt to focus in on the visuals that surround our leading character. Dialogue is kept to a minimum as Leo's Francine works through the motions, turning away those who show an interest in her and instead seeking intimacy in the most absurd places.
Leo does a brilliant job at conveying emotion and insecurities as she battles to formulate a life within an unknown world. Her demeanor and actions help to present a character, giving audiences a rare character study of minimalist proportions.
My displeasure with Francine lies in its story. While I appreciate both directors attempting to craft a film unlike anything else out there, it only works with a fluid story that is both relatable and complete. By the end of the feature, I wasn't sure of my feelings towards Francine, The Hudson Valley was gorgeous to look at, don't get me wrong, but at the end of the day I wanted to feel something for our lead.
As a result, Francine goes down as one of those fantastic ideas that never quite materialized on the big screen. Leo deserves props, as do both directors, but a key element was missing when it came to the story: connectivity. Sadly, there is just no way to overcome that.