As Cineworld prepares to re-open, we've put together an exciting list of movies you can enjoy. From old classics to returning 2020 gems, there's something for everyone.
One of the films we're particularly excited to be introducing is heartfelt drama Saint Frances, which has already blazed a trail on the awards circuit prior to arriving in the UK. Scroll down to find out more.
1. It's a topical story about the here and now
Looking for a contemporary drama that's relatable and believable? Then Saint Frances is very likely the film for you. Tempting as it is to treat cinema as an escape from reality, movies also have a remarkable tendency to make us realise things about ourselves. And Saint Frances is an exemplar, with its painfully well-observed yet tender story of a young nanny at a crossroads in her life.
Said character is 34-year-old Bridget, whose deadbeat life finds new purpose when she starts nannying a six-year-old child named Frances (Ramona Edith Williams), the daughter of a lesbian couple. At the same time, Bridget unexpectedly finds herself pregnant, meaning she has to grapple various complications in her personal life. By resisting melodrama and caricature, the film aims to communicate with a young audience about the messiness of modern relationships, the value of empathy and the importance of finding one's direction in life. Given the current global situation, that's probably something we can all relate to.
2. It showcases a vibrant rising star
The film stars newcomer Kelly O'Sullivan as the hapless Bridget. Yet rather than mock her, the film explores her path to redemption via the relationship with young Frances. As a performer, O'Sullivan has a handful of credits to her name, but this is being credited as her breakthrough performance. Among her prior credits: TV comedy series Sirens, co-created by Denis Leary, and various indie dramas. At the same time, she also writes the script (more on which momentarily).
O'Sullivan's performance has been praised as the brittle yet empathetic heart of Saint Frances. Indiewire critic Kate Erbland says: "O’Sullivan... is a real find, the kind of “voice of a generation” talent who spends less time talking about her genius insight and more time simply delivering on it."
3. It's the breakthrough movie for director Alex Thompson
The film also showcases exciting talent behind the camera. Filmmaker Alex Thompson makes his feature movie debut after years spent in the short film arena, and his humane insight has been lauded by the critics.
In an interview with the SXSW Film Festival (where the film won the 2019 Special Jury Award), Thompson describes the film as an attempt to "tell something truthful". He also describes it as "a great challenge" but "great fun too".
Thompson says he was inspired to fuse O'Sullivan's incisive script with the needs of the quintessential summer movie, conveying the idea of a juncture in a single character's life. "I was also excited to make a modern summer movie... That sense of play that summers have, that earnestness and edge at the end of the cul de sac... Kelly’s story seemed to flourish under the suggestion, and never lost its teeth or its heart or its originality. That was a story worth telling."
4. Kelly O'Sullivan also doubles up as a writer
As mentioned, the talented O'Sullivan performs double-duty, imprinting on the project with both her acting and her writing. The film's matter-of-fact, earthy humour stems from O'Sullivan's own experiences: in a recent interview with the Financial Times, she says that one jaw-dropping line from Bridget's movie came from real life.
In the same interview, she talks about how deeply personal the script is: “I wrote with my voice, my sense of humour, and the way that I see the world. It wasn't a given that I would be playing the part of Bridget. I had a lot of insecurity about that. It's embarrassing to say ‘I wrote something and I want to be in it.’ But there are a lot of benefits to me being in it because I knew the tone of the script and I knew where the jokes should be buried.”
It's this sense of honesty that's clearly resonated with critics and audiences, not to mention director Alex Thompson himself.
5. The critics adore it
Fresh from its success on the film festival circuit (including the aforementioned SXSW win), Saint Frances swiftly worked its magical on the critical community. The film sports an impressive 98% on Rotten Tomatoes from 64 reviews, putting it in illustrious company alongside other indie dramas like Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird.
Rolling Stone's Pete Travers raves: "What looks like a throwaway about a precocious kid and her nanny is actually one of the best and gutsiest movies you'll find anywhere these pandemic days-a fun-time trailblazer that retains its rough edges to that last. It's some kind of miracle."
Writing for RogerEbert.com, Sheila O'Malley notes and praises the film's accuracy: "It's truly refreshing to watch a film where nobody has anything figured out, where life proceeds messily and imperfectly. Saint Frances is unpredictable in a very human way."
And Mark Kermode's five-star review in The Guardian praises the movie as a "wry, tender, taboo-busting drama", adding: "When Bridget finally gets to say exactly what she thinks about the events that define the drama... her words are framed within a throwaway comedic device that undercuts her honesty with a hilariously dry punchline". Kermode concludes: "It's just one instance of the delicate balancing act that this gently marvellous movie gets just right."