Chicago Critics Film Festival: Alex Thompson and Kelly O’Sullivan on Adulthood, Abortion and the Unwelcome Timeliness of “Saint Frances”

Saint Frances Writer/star Kelly O'Sullivan and costar Ramona Edith Williams in Saint Frances, opening the Chicago Critics Film Festival tonight at the Music Box Theatre.

Welcome back to More of a Comment, Really…, a weekly interview podcast hosted by Clint Worthington! Every episode will feature interviews with actors, filmmakers, producers, and more, giving you the skinny on the latest films and TV.

The 7th Annual Chicago Critics Film Festival opens today, a rousing week of festival darlings courtesy from the fine folks of the Chicago Film Critics Association. From May 17-23rd at the Music Box Theatre, the CCFF will showcase some of the hottest films coming out of Sundance, SXSW, and others, as well as some film classics and shorts. This is a Chicago festival first and foremost, so it’s great that the fest’s opening night film is Saint Frances, a small but mighty indie drama made in Chicago by Chicagoans. In the light of horrifying current events, it’s also disappointingly timely.

Charting a few weeks in the life of 34-year-old waitress Bridget (screenwriter Kelly O’Sullivan, pulling in a magnificent, layered performance), Saint Frances follows her as she reflects on the increasing feeling that life has passed her by while she reckons with an unwanted pregnancy that results in an abortion, and all the complicated feelings that surrounds that. Meanwhile, she takes a job nannying for a suburban couple and caring for their exuberant, unpredictable six-year-old daughter Frances (Ramona Edith-Williams, preternaturally honest and cute as a button), these circumstances coalescing in unexpected ways.

To ring in the festival, I had O’Sullivan and her partner/director Alex Thompson over to The Spool Studios to talk about the warm psychological nuances of Saint Frances, working together as creative partners in addition to being a couple, and the surprising urgency the film’s frankness about abortion takes on following the worrying passage of recent anti-abortion bills in numerous states across the country. We also talk about the festival itself and the other film’s we’re all looking forward to seeing. Take a listen!

Saint Frances opens the Chicago Critics Film Festival tonight at 7 pm, followed by a Q&A with Thompson and O’Sullivan. Get tickets at the Music Box website.

(More of a Comment, Really… is a proud member of the Chicago Podcast Coop. Thanks to Overcast for sponsoring this episode!)


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