Frances Ferguson

 (418)1 h 13 min2020X-Ray16+
Nick Offerman's narration adds savor to Bob Byington's bone-dry comedy about a Nebraska substitute teacher (Kaley Wheless) whose crushing discontent drives her to an ill-advised transgression. This SXSW Audience Favorite also stars David Krumholtz and Martin Starr. "Strong, original storytelling. Charming and wistful. Restlessly inventive." (Eric Kohn, IndieWire)
Bob Byington
Nick OffermanDavid KrumholtzMartin Starr
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Kaley WhelessKeith Poulson
Chris McKennaKris BoustedtZefrey Throwell
The Substitute
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3.5 out of 5 stars

418 global ratings

  1. 38% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 21% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 15% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 9% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 17% of reviews have 1 stars

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Top reviews from the United States

Maple SugarReviewed in the United States on March 4, 2020
1.0 out of 5 starsPedophile on parade
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I wonder if the Five Star reviews would exist if the pedophile in this movie was a 35 year old man and not a 35 year old attractive, blond and model slim actress? Because legally, if a man or woman of 35 had sexual contact with a minor, that's statutory rape. Why is that considered funny?

In a world where children and teen agers are raped, exploited and murdered daily, why turn this subject into a witty and sardonic film?

The main character is a woman who lures her 16 year old student ( yes, she's a teacher), to a laundromat and seduces him atop a washing machine. She's arrested, incarcerated and never shows remorse. She's also the mother of a 3year old girl. Great mother.....

Her husband is portrayed as a clueless jerk who doesn't satisfy her sexually. That's her excuse. Everyone in this film is shown as idiotic and banal except our child molesting high school sub.

As someone who was molested as a child by a trusted adult, I can tell you that it was no laughing matter and I've never gotten over it. Not once in this film do we see the impact of her sexual abuse on this young man. I guess the director doesn't think a 35year old married substitute teacher is a threat since the actress he cast looks like a young Cybil Shepard. I guess, as long as the rapist is attractive, it's not really rape. What a terrible message. What a terrible movie.
116 people found this helpful
mr. contrarianReviewed in the United States on March 20, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars***IGNORE BAD REVIEWS***
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This is about as honest and focused as a character study can be. There isn't one frame or word more than what it takes to flesh out what this character is going through. I'm willing to concede that a deviant character like her doesn't DESERVE empathy. But that's my entire point. You don't have to empathize. You only have to understand these 3 years of her life and then draw your own guesses about what she might have been the years before and after. Why five stars? Because it manages to steer around every cliche. She never lifts a pinky finger to excuse herself or condemn herself either. She subconsciously realizes that it's how she treats others going forward that will prove if she becomes a better or worse person. There is a lot of work to be done after people throw their lives this far off the rails. She isn't deluded about this.
24 people found this helpful
S. VecchioReviewed in the United States on January 29, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starsAppears Dreary, but Sparkles With Humor
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I really liked this dry, deadpan humor. It was a typical indie appearing, quiet, colorless (mostly because the movie took place in jail, prison, government offices...)

It was quiet but absolutely not colorless. All the characters had depth, which is pretty hard to do in a minimalist film.
The way Frances enters the slammer is totally nonchalant, telling the guard she likes her meals "lightly cooked", and when her Mother visits, she brings Frances a pacaged cupcake,from what she described as the "Duty Free" shop. (Vending machine) I love Nick Offerman, the narrator. Married to Megan Mullally.
Cute, and yes, sprightly movie, with a sex-offender you'll fall in love with.
23 people found this helpful
Mary LouiseReviewed in the United States on March 3, 2020
1.0 out of 5 starsDull
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Frontline has Will Lyman - a voice I could listen to all day. Can't say the same about Nick Offerman's non-distinct voice. Before watching the film, the fact that the narration was offered as a highlight worried me. And so went the rest of the film. Lifeless. Are we really supposed to identify with and champion someone who doesn't assume responsibility (for her career, marriage, child). We complain (rightfully) about lack of accountability in government;, but it starts with the individual. Nothing tragic happened to this woman; her misery is of her own making. And if you look closely, neither she nor the film offer anyone much of anything, imho.
19 people found this helpful
DetectorReviewed in the United States on March 4, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starstough one to review. It had its moments.
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I liked it. I mean, how can you resist that photo, and that subject matter. And the film is not painful...not too watch from a production values point of view. The acting, weirdly enough, mostly pretty amateur unknowns as far as I can tell with one exception, is ok. The heroine is a female Holden Caulfield type, seriously detached and alienated, not in a hostile way, just in a sort of deadpan, I'm a nobody, who knows nothing, and everyone I know is irritating. So the group therapist is the pro actor you;ll recognize from tv, and he's very engaging, even pulls me in, and gets her character emoting a little bit, and talking a little, and that's where the film literally leaves her. In a better situation, she of some of the irritants, and speaking in sentences even though the guy in front of her is not bright enough to actually understand all of the few sentences she's speaking. There were a couple of out loud laughs, and plentiful, deadpan dry humor, so that lubricates the film enough that it passes harmlessly through one's system. I mean, don't go in with high expectations, and it'll be OK. I liked it. I'd probably watch another movie made by these folks.
10 people found this helpful
Original Toe KneeReviewed in the United States on March 9, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starsQuirky... maybe too real
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Watching Kaylie Wheless in this role was hypnotic, in a way.... not sure why, perhaps she was "playing herself"? Or just perhaps she did an incredible acting job, sort of being a witless prank of a human... I don't know... Something tells me this is a movie more real than most people could ever take... Of course many wills ee it as boring...I am suggesting, that for many current humans, this movie is a reflection of their reality... so it goes... Has society peaked a long time ago and fallen to this? See what you think... Had me laughing, had me scratching my head, had me squirming in my seat... but... oddly, taking into account that this is an ACTRESS, and this is the role she is playing, well it then took on a new gleam...became quite an odd sort of way... goes basically nowhere, but then almost gets there.... if you know what I man... could actually be a work of genius...I am guessing in a few short years people will be downloading this one like crazy, looking back on the "good times"...heh hehe.
10 people found this helpful
nervouslyoptimisticReviewed in the United States on February 7, 2020
5.0 out of 5 starsI kinda loved this movie.
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This is such a good little movie. There is nothing flashy about it but it has character. The story is told in an interesting way punctuated by wry, subtle humor. The acting and narration are excellent and it all comes together for a wonderful film. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
13 people found this helpful
PhineasReviewed in the United States on March 6, 2020
4.0 out of 5 starsA story well told
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At first I wasn't sure whether the lead character, Frances Ferguson, was worth being interested in. The initial impression she gave was of someone who, rather than living, was just a spectator of her own life, failing to connect to anyone and seeming to admire only her own sardonic remarks. But the cleverness of the movie's story line, the generally very good acting and Offerman’s narration kept me watching until the end, when her personality does become a little more complex and interesting. I would also compliment the movie for incorporating a provocative topic [spoiler alert], sex between a teacher and student, without the characters, dialog or direction of the movie becoming a slave to the topic. BTW, Amazon calls it "Bob Byington's...comedy." That claim to authorship should have been shared with the lead actress, Kaley Wheless, whom the movie's credits say was also responsible for the story.
5 people found this helpful
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