Full of great performances, interesting discourse and a central group of characters worth rooting for, Call Jane is a powerful watch, if a little corny and predictable.
WRITTEN BY BECCA JOHNSON / NOVEMBER 21, 2022
Call Jane brings us to 1968 Chicago, before Roe vs. Wade introduced abortion laws. When Joy is denied an abortion, despite health complications meaning she only has 50% chance of surviving her pregnancy, she seeks help from a group of suburban women and begins to work alongside them. The movie is based on a true story of 'The Janes', a group of activists who built an underground network to help women with unwanted pregnancies.
Call Jane is carried by a terrific lead performance from Elizabeth Banks, who may have just delivered her best work yet. Joy is a complex character who wants to help women find safe abortions, despite her prior judgements and fear. She must hide the fact she is helping these women from her loved ones at home, and battles with trying to keep everyone happy. Her character goes on a real journey of self discovery and experiences what life is like for those less fortunate than her, and Banks understands this perfectly. Sigourney Weaver is unsurprisingly fantastic as Virginia, the ring runner of 'The Janes'. Her desire to help women around the country is endearing, and she does her best to give the best service possible whilst taking the feelings and ideas of the whole group into account. Weaver fits into this motherly, nurturing role with ease. Other great performances are delivered by Chris Messina, Wunmi Mosaku and Kate Mara.
It's not surprising that the movie has a lot to say about abortion laws, lack of support for women and pro life politics, but it dares to delve deeper than that. It explores how even illegal abortions were not available to all, especially those in lower income families, due to their high cost. Wunmi Mosaku delivers a powerful monologue about black women not receiving the same help and support as white women, and that they shouldn't ignore anyone's cries for help just because they can't afford it. Much of the dialogue, though predictable, is incredibly powerful, poignant and important, particularly in today's society, where it appears we are taking steps backwards rather than forwards. It may gloss over some of it's points and leave you begging for a little more conversation, but what it does manage to deliver in its two hour run time is enough to sink your teeth into. It gets emotional and tough to watch, but without feeling the need to get too graphic. The horror and uncomfortable side of the procedures is shown through the expressions of the actors, who all excel.
Plot aside, the movie is nicely crafted and definitely fits its 60's setting. The soundtrack is bouncy and fun, the costuming is gorgeously 60's and the hair and make up compliments this and brings everything together. The cinematography is nice, with orange-toned colour grading that is not only easy on the eye, but further immerses the audience into it's 1960's aesthetic. It's plain to see that real care has been taken to make this as believable and accurate as possible, and it looks and sounds stunning.
Call Jane is a good looking and superbly acted movie that whilst occasionally feeling a little passive, does it's best to provide intriguing and empowering discourse about the lack of abortion health care in 1960's America. It's both emotional and uplifting, with an ending that's bound to leave a smile upon your face. It's aiming to please the crowd and definitely plays things a little too safe, but at least that means it will appeal to a large audience.