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Friday, August 2, 2013


A brilliant story, a brilliant script and a brilliant actor who carried it forward right until the very end. (Review by Pranesh Maharaj)

Francine, directed by Melanie Shatzky and Brian M.Cassidy, is a movie made in the United States and Canada in 2012 that was screened as part of the recent Durban International Film Festival.

Following the programme notes, Francine tells the story of a ex-con whose alienation from society finds expression in her deep love for animals, particularly the ever-increasing number of cats with whom she shares her dishevelled apartment.

It started with bad sound and I thought “Another wannabe filmmaker with a poor script”. I was wrong.

I want to start with the cinema management who, without the necessary from FPB (Film Publications Board) should at least view the film before letting in or selling tickets to people with children. I felt for them as the cinema makes a mistake and plays Spring Breakers instead. Full-on nude scenes with people grabbing their crotches and pleasuring themselves (Not Banned by FPB).

Then starts Francine and she is an awesome 50-something lady in a shower. The camera pulls out to her looking into a mirror, fully nude. I appreciated it immediately but the bungling audience with kids didn't. They made a hasty exit and the shuffling was done with.

The bad sound did not stop but I felt for this filmmaker. It was a brilliant story, a brilliant script and a brilliant actor who carried it forward right until the very end. She was not afraid to be what the script demanded.

Albeit an obviously low budget production; I don't think any major syndicate could have captured this story any better than the producers of Francine. The story is a statement of how society persecutes us for just behaviour even in retaliation to a greater crime. The end provides the solution to the start as I kept asking myself “what was she persecuted for, in the first place?” And the answers become more and more apparent as we watch the film. Applause trickled across the room after the showing and had it been a bigger audience it would have been more than a trickle.

Just give me an hour or two with the sound and you have a purrrrfect movie. I loved this one.  - Pranesh Maharaj