“Francis Ferguson” is edgy and worth your time

A review of the film that features North Platte High School 's Megan Jarabek and other local actors.

“Frances Ferguson”, a movie filmed in North Platte, played at the Fox Theater on Oct 17 & 18.  Several North Platte High School students, including senior Megan Jerabek, were cast in the full-length feature film.  The movie is directed by Bob Byington and follows Frances, played by Kaley Wheless, through her afterlife in crime. The story takes place in North Platte and focuses on the small town’s reaction to a scandal. “A substitute teacher has an affair with a student,” said Jerabek.  The movie is weird and unique. “It’s not exactly what everyone expected it to be when they were casting in North Platte,” said Jerabek.


“Frances Ferguson” begins with a few opening shots of North Platte, as well as an introduction by the narrator, Nick Offerman (yes, that Nick Offerman, most well known for his role as Ron Swanson in Parks and Recreation.) It explains North Platte as a town of 8,000 where everybody knows each other. In reality, the town has a population of over 27,000; I believe the change of population was made to better drive the idea of a familiarity between the residents of the town.


It really is quite surreal to watch a movie that was filmed in your town. It gave me a nostalgic feeling to watch a story take place in an environment so familiar. This is a feeling only North Platte residents will get, while to anyone else, it’s just some town in Nebraska. While watching the movie, my brain was constantly detecting the exact location of where the scene was taking place. I found myself noticing small things the filmmakers thought they could get away with. There is a scene that shows Frances walking outside of a brick building located across the street from the library, but then cuts to her walking about a quarter mile further downtown. North Platte residents will have a unique experience when watching this movie.


“Frances Ferguson” has an uncensored, unique, and brave sense of humor. Although I haven’t seen any of director Bob Byington’s other work, It feels like Byington knew what he wanted and didn’t care what people would think. What resulted is a movie with brilliant, sharp, and edgy comedy. This specific blend of dark humor is exactly what teenagers want in a comedy these days. The first 40 minutes had the audience laughing constantly, however the jokes slowed down dramatically after the 40 minute mark.


The acting was astounding, especially for a movie with such a small budget and many first-time actors and actresses. Kaley Wheless-One of the more experienced actresses-delivers a stunning performance as the quiet and complicated Frances. Nick Offerman’s narration is one of my favorite parts of this film; he provides a relaxed commentary to give contrast to the rest of the movie’s chaotic comedic style. This makes the narrator seem like the only sane voice in the film, and in turn, makes him an instantly likable character. There were only two roles that left me wishing for more in their performances-both roles were first-time student actors.


Although the cinematography is enjoyable, the pacing of the movie is inconsistent. It seems that at the start of the movie, one scene is never held on to for more than 2 minutes before switching to another setting. After Frances’ experience with the legal system, the pacing slows down and from that point stays consistent until the end. The ending leaves more to be desired and leaves the viewer with an incomplete feeling. It was hard to identify a solid climax to the story because what appeared to be the most exciting set of events seemed to occur too early for it to be the climax of the story.


“Frances Ferguson” is a good movie for being filmed in North Platte, but only a decent movie if you factor out the nostalgia of living in the town. I recommend watching it when it streams on Amazon Prime later this year.

Watch senior Megan Jarabek in the trailer for “Frances Ferguson” as she “outs” the main character in a post-crime group therapy scene.