Melissa Leo talks about giving stark and raw performance for Francine

The Academy Award-winning actress goes no-holds-barred as she takes on the lead role in the independent film Francine.

The title character is a woman who seems to have a hard time adjusting once she was released from prison. The movie opens with a stark scene that includes a totally nude shot of Leo taking a shower in prison. The actress says she thinks that it was important to the plot.

"I want you to land with some kind of shock,” she explained.

“It's a very stark scene and very stark nudity of her, Francine's last hours in the prison as she is given a timed shower by the prison

“It seemed to me a fascinating way to invite the audience in. Here I stand, naked before you, come with me down this difficult path.”

Leo says the viewer is never really given that much information about who Francine is.

"She's a woman you don't know a lot about,” she admitted. “You get to know her in this handful of days one summer when she's completed her stint at prison for whatever it was for. Now she's got to assimilate back into society."

Part of the reason you don't know a lot about Francine is that she speaks so rarely during the film. Leo says the lack of dialogue was part of what attracted her to the role.

"Sometimes as an actor the first mistake we make is hanging to the words too much,” she said. “Then we say the words too fast and the scene is over, and we've missed the nuances of behaviour between people, which is what acting really is.”