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Drama movie directed by Graeme Clifford

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Unforgettable story of movie star's madness

  • Sep 22, 2013

This biopic of Frances Farmer traces her life from outspoken teen to Hollywood starlet, followed by long periods of mental illness and barbaric treatment in institutions.

Jessica Lange is magnificent as Frances; her performance is riveting and heartbreaking. Sam Shepard co-stars as her lover and Kim Stanley is excellent as her mother.

It is never clearly established whether Frances was really mentally ill or just a very high-strung and hard-to-handle alcoholic. The conditions she faced in the asylum were brutal and these scenes are very unpleasant.

The whole film is a treat on one hand, as the acting is flawless. The story, however, is unceasingly grim, depressing, and exhausting and I won't watch it again.


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September 27, 2013
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More Frances reviews
review by . October 11, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Jessica Lange stars as Frances Farmer in this well-crafted film based on Farmer's novel "Will There Really Be a Morning". Farmer's life recounts one of the darkest chapters in Hollywood history, as her strong political and personal ethics black- balled her career, and she eventually spent time in several mental institutions. Farmer was definitely an actress ahead-of-her-time, refusing to bow to studio conventions and only starring in films she felt were right for her talents. At the apex of her …
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Jessica Lange gives a career performance in a role she was born to play: the talented and troubled Frances Farmer. Farmer's awful trajectory travels from bright Seattle girl to 1930s Hollywood starlet to degraded (eventually lobotomized) mental patient. Lange, who has the blond, clean look of Farmer's heyday, goes into these places with the fierce abandon of a true believer. Her performance, the lush John Barry score, and the period re-creation are all worth applauding; almost everything else fails. Everyone except Farmer is grotesquely caricatured to fit the movie's thesis, which is that if you are intelligent and nonconformist, the system will resolutely destroy you. (The medical establishment is evil incarnate.) This simple conclusion seems inadequate and disrespectful of Frances Farmer's tragic problems. For a radiant glimpse of what the real Farmer had to offer, see Howard Hawks'sCome and Get It, which bristles with excitement over a new discovery.--Robert Horton
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Director: Graeme Clifford
Genre: Drama
DVD Release Date: February 19, 2002
Runtime: 140 minutes
Studio: Starz / Anchor Bay
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