Despite being an acutely observed portrait of a woman, Francine curiously raises more questions than it answers. Filmmakers Cassidy and Shatzky, making their narrative feature debut after directing several documentaries, bring their observational skills to the fore as they home in on Francine, who has just been released from prison for a crime that's never specified and returns to a rural bungalow (in an unspecified locale). She embarks on a series of jobs, all of them around animals, and she appears to have more connection to these creatures than to humans. Francine is clearly damaged, but we never learn the cause. Because Francine is portrayed by Melissa Leo, one of the most brilliant of all contemporary actors, this unhappy character is complexly moving and enormously compelling. Naked in a prison shower in the film's opening scene, Francine clearly does not shy away from exposure, yet this gripping character consistently resists full revelation.
Thursday, March 15, 7:30pm, Violet Crown
Copyright © 2017 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.