The unseen first act of any episode of an animal hoarding show, Francine is Shame for husbandry addicts. A camcorder verité story, the film stars Oscar-winner Melissa Leo turning in a quiet, pained performance as the title character. There are a lot of short scenes with long takes, but the film overall is short enough to pull off its meandering character study. Features a few unpleasant scenes of behind-the-scenes real-life veterinary moments. The film could definitely stand to loose the few thin attempts at poetic filmmaking that puncture the otherwise intimately-shot documentary approach. Ultimately the abrupt climax does a nice job of paying off the film’s approach.

Francine Details:

Directors/Screenwriters: Brian M. Cassidy, Melanie Shatzky
Melissa Leo, Keith Leonard, Victoria Charkut

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 those who take an interest in her 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.

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