Director: Phyllis Nagy
Writer: Hayley Schore, Roshan Sethi
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Kate Mara, Wunmi Mosaku, Cory Michael Smith, Grace Edwards,Kristina Harrison, Rebecca Henderson, Aida Turturro, Evangeline Young, John Magaro, Geoffrey Cantor
Seen on: 15.12.2022
Content Note: abortion, mention of rape and child sexual abuse
Joy (Elizabeth Banks) is happily married to Will (Chris Messina), and they already have a teenage daughter, Charlotte (Grace Edwards). Unexpectedly, but joyfully, they are expecting a second child. In short, Joy is living the suburban dream. But it all falls apart when she gets the diagnosis that she is likely to die if she carries her pregnancy to term. Legal abortions are strictly limited, and Joy is not allowed to have one. So she turns to more illegal means and starts to be deeply involved with the Jane Collective led by Virginia (Sigourney Weaver) who provide as many abortions as safely as they can.
Call Jane is an entertaining film with its heart in its right place. It might get a little too on the nose sometimes, but that’s just because there is so much to say and so little time to say it. In any case, it captures the emotional side of things perfectly – and is a beautiful call for solidarity, and safe and legal access to abortions.
The timing of Call Jane seems auspicious, almost as if Nagy and her team knew what was to come with the fall of Roe v. Wade in the USA (the film ends with the enormous relief that decision brought in the first place). Unfortunately, one doesn’t need prophetic abilities to see this coming – feminism and feminist wins have been under a stronger than usual attack for quite some time. So, one does watch Call Jane with a certain bittersweetness: to watch those women (and yes, in this case, it’s a coalition of women only) fight and succeed while knowing that society has walked backwards in the meantime is a little hard.
That being said, the film manages to capture the elation and the strength that lies in the solidarity of its women. While Joy is our point of entry and the film is structured around her growth as a character – from well-off and oblivious to reluctant participant to leader – the film does its best to capture the many different stories that surround this topic, and tries to view it through an intersectional lense. It’s an important and welcome extension and it works.
Banks and Weaver are fantastic in very different ways. They get the most attention from the film and understandably so, but I wouldn’t want to leave out Mosaku’s electrifying presence. She isn’t in the film a lot (unfortunately), but she is magnetic in every second she gets.
The film isn’t perfect, but it is definitely good enough, especially when you already have an affinity for the topic. But even if you haven’t ever thought about it, I think that the film is a nice introduction into the many ways legal and easily accessible abortions are important. It’s always good to get a reminder there.
Summarizing: I enjoyed it a lot.