Connect with us

Reviews

Call Jane Review | Elizabeth Banks is a Suffera-Jane in New Pro-Choice Drama

PFF: Elizabeth Bank’s performance can’t fully salvadge a middling pro-choice film that has a first half that greatly outweighs its second half.

Published

on

You couldn’t choose a more timely moment than in 2022, the year when Roe v. Wade was overturned a half-century after its original implementation to make a film like Call Jane; a historical drama about the Janes, a group who provided underground abortions in the 1960s for women in need. I’m not here to take a knee-deep stance on the politics one way or another, but what cannot be refuted is that the film is important now more than ever. Bear in mind, the film was shot well before the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was made as it premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in January. But aside from what Call Jane has to say, does it succeed in its delivery? Well, on occasion, yes. The first half of the film is noticeably stronger than the second act which seems so directionless that it delves into contrived drama just to keep viewers somewhat alert as to what’s going on. Elizabeth Banks delivers great work, but she can’t save the film from its ultimate demise. 

Joy (Banks) is a housewife in the 1960s who discovers that she is pregnant with her second child. However, this pregnancy takes a physical toll on her and threatens her life. She attempts to plead her case for a legal abortion to no avail (it is a bit mind-boggling that such a decision is left in the hands of a table full of men, no?) and is left in desperation mode.

A still from Call Jane. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

As a result, Jane is left with very few options and she somehow ends up coming across the Janes, an underground group of women that provide abortions to women for a fee of $600. This is where Joy meets Virginia (Sigourney Weaver), the ringleader of the group. After her procedure, Jane decides to join forces with the Janes and takes on an important role in the group. For the sake of spoilers, I won’t say exactly what that role requires. 

For someone who primarily knows Banks from Zack and Miri and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, it’s a nice change of pace to see her in a dramatic role. She carries the film, and she does a wonderful job portraying the wide range of emotions conveyed by Joy in the early goings of the film. During her first meeting with the Janes, Banks conveys Joy’s naivety, anxiety and trepidation all in the confines of a three-minute scene. She’s remarkable in the role and shows the most interest in what’s occurring on-screen.

That’s not to completely write off Weaver, who has jumped from the recent comedy The Good House, in which she shared the screen with Kevin Kline, to a pro-choice film. Weaver is fine in the scenes she has, but she’s so sporadically used that it feels like the role given to any big actor that is used on the poster of those straight-to-DVD or straight-to-Redbox movies a la Frank Grillo and Bruce Willis. Weaver has a role, sure, but she just feels underused. 

It would appear that the events of Call Jane are fictional despite it featuring the Janes. That does beg the question of why the film decides to gloss over certain events such as members of the Janes being arrested before Roe v. Wade ultimately freeing them. Maybe a feel-good ending was desired, or the film just didn’t have any room in its script for this type of scene. Either way, knowing this in hindsight makes the ending of the film feel a bit strange considering the jump that’s taken and what’s looming in the backdrop of the final scene.

But outside of its important message and just as a film, Call Jane lacks any sort of pizzazz. Not that every film needs to cram its blocking or have wild cinematography, but there’s very little about the film that feels special. I guess cinematographer Greta Zozula gets a couple of tracking shots, but outside of those, the film’s framing is just so bland. The score, composed by Isabella Summers, actually does start strong. They pair a classic Hollywood score with the opening tracking shot. My Shazam didn’t recognize the song, so I’m going to assume that this was Summers’ work in this particular scene. It’s just a shame that her score isn’t allowed to really shine anywhere else.

Bland also describes the film in its second half. Call Jane is at its best when it’s taking a close examination of one particular case. We see Joy discover her pregnancy, begin feeling discomfort, plead her case for legal abortion, get recommended a shady alternative (acting suicidal to psychiatrists), discover the Janes and then actually get the procedure done all before she ever joins the Janes as a part of the team. As a result, there is something inherently gripping because you care about the character. Not to say that you don’t care about some of the other patients and women you see, but there’s not an emotional connection and simply put, the film feels distant once Joy joins the Janes. It’s just so dull and the film crosses the finish line like a car that’s on its last legs. 

A still from Call Jane. Photo courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Maybe because of most of the second half’s aimlessness, Call Jane needs to have some conflict to wake up audiences. And since the film is fictionalized anyways, why didn’t they come up with anything better than creating internal drama between some of the Janes including a brief spat about race? Sure, I think that the central conflict about deciding who gets the free abortions is worth talking about, but Call Jane doesn’t do anything much more than pit Gwen (Wunmi Mosaku) in a shouting match with Virginia. 

Also, why have an actor of Kate Mara’s talent and name recognition to simply put her in the film as a secondary conflict? She’s in the first 20 minutes pretty prominently and only makes cameo appearances throughout the rest of the film just to add a potential conflict with Will (Chris Messina), Joy’s husband. 

It’s hard to dismiss a film with such an informative and powerful message, but I think it’s important to remember that anytime someone decides to choose film as their vehicle (or medium) for their rhetoric, it’s important to not bore your audience. Call Jane does have things to say that should be heard, but I couldn’t blame anyone for dozing off after the first 45 or so. One of Banks’ best performances can’t save a film that may have bit off more than it could chew.


Call Jane had its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival on January 21 and is in select theaters now.

FILM RATING

Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Entertainment

‘IF’ Review | The Most Meaningful and Heartfelt Movie of The Year, Delights With Pure Imagination

Published

on

This review was made possible by watching an advanced screening

The most meaningful and heartfelt movie of the year. “IF” enchants with delight and wonder as John Krasinski crafts a love letter to our childhood, making us experience emotions that ultimately hit me right in the feels as he reminds us to never lose sight of our imagination! 

In a cinematic landscape often dominated by cynicism and darkness, John Krasinski’s “IF” is a breath of fresh air, a heartwarming and endearing tale that will leave you beaming with joy as it expertly balances the magic, wonder, and adventure of childhood with the poignancy, trials, and tribulations of adulthood, creating a narrative that is at once both nostalgic and universally relatable. The real magic of “IF” lies in its ability to tap into the collective shared childhood experience by evoking memories of our imaginary friends & the adventures we’ve shared with them. 

“IF,” is a whimsical fantasy family adventure that explores the concept of abandoned imaginary friends or IFs as they call themselves. In this heartwarming tale, Bea, a young girl played beautifully by Cailey Fleming discovers her unique ability to see these unwanted characters and reconnect the forgotten IFs with their original creators who have now fully grown up as she embarks on a magical journey through this imaginative, colourful, and creative world. As one girl learns the power of imagination and friendship. Bea thinks she must be hallucinating – until the man in the apartment upstairs reveals he can also see the IFs. 

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Several years ago, Krasinski, known for his work on “A Quiet Place,” penned a script intending to uplift his children who were struggling with feelings of depression amidst the challenges of the pandemic. Krasinski not only wrote the script but also took on the role of director for the film. Starring Ryan Reynolds, Cailey Fleming, Steve Carell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Louis Gossett Jr., and Fiona Shaw, among many other A-listers lending their voices to the characters, “IF” was inspired by the impact of the pandemic on Krasinski’s daughters, Hazel and Violet.

Having long harboured the desire to create a film for his children, Krasinski found inspiration in the imaginative worlds his daughters would delve into. Witnessing the genuine joy and authenticity with which they played, he was motivated to capture this magic on screen. Through “IF,” Krasinski aimed to show his daughters that this world of imagination and make-believe is always within reach, a place where they can be anything they desire. This magical world is ever-present and waiting for them to explore.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Imaginary friends, these elusive entities existing solely in a child’s vivid imagination, serve as a comforting beacon amidst the chaos of adulthood. In this whimsical tale, away from the foreboding presence of sightless extraterrestrials, audiences are treated to a cascade of endearing characters and a wave of nostalgic charm that instils a heartwarming sense of joy and wonder. “IF” is a delightful escapade that celebrates the virtues of curiosity, creativity, and innocence, rekindling the essence of childhood wonder, and reminding us that the magic is always within reach.

Featuring a star-studded lineup of IFs including Steve Carell, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Bradley Cooper, Keegan-Michael Key, and more, the film introduces a mix of charismatic imaginary beings brought to life through the distinct voices of these esteemed actors. Each character, with its unique backstory and quirks, adds a human touch to the ethereal world, resonating with both younger viewers and their older counterparts.

The film’s exploration of imaginary friends serves as a poignant reminder that our childhood aspirations and dreams are not just fleeting fantasies, but rather tangible time capsules that hold the power to shape our future. These creations, born from our imagination, are a manifestation of our hopes, desires, and innermost ambitions – a reflection of who we wanted to be and what we wanted to achieve. As we grow up and face the harsh realities of adulthood, it’s easy to lose sight of these childhood ideals, but the film suggests that we don’t have to let go of that spark. By tapping into the imagination and embracing the spirit of our youthful selves, we can reignite our passions, rediscover our sense of purpose, and continue to evolve into the best versions of ourselves. In this way, imaginary friends become a powerful tool for self-reflection, creativity, and personal growth, reminding us that even as we age, we can still hold onto the essence of our childhood dreams.”

Through the vibrant personalities of figures like Blue, Unicorn, Sunny, Spaceman, and Ally, the movie explores the boundless bounds of a child’s imagination. A blend of conventional and eccentric companions, such as Blossom, Ice, Cosmo, and Marshmallow creates a tapestry of humour and charm that engages viewers in a realm where the fantastical meets the mundane in delightful ways. Most significantly Lewis, an old teddy bear voiced by Louis Gossett Jr sadly passed away and the film is lovingly dedicated to him with such a touching tribute after the credits rolled.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

To render the unseen into vision, director John Krasinski enlisted the expertise of VFX supervisor Chris Lawrence and the revered effects studio Framestore, weaving together around 800 meticulously crafted shots featuring a diverse ensemble of 42 CGI characters. Within this narrative realm, a poignant blend of fantasy and magical realism flourishes, engendering a profound sense of belief in the audience as they witness these ethereal beings coalesce on screen. Employing a blend of physical puppets and digital animation, the film sought to honour the sanctity of space and performance, poised on the precipice of seamlessly integrating these otherworldly entities within the tangible fabric of the film universe.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Through this meticulous fusion of technical prowess and artistic vision, the film emerges as a testament to the transformative power of storytelling, poised to captivate audiences with its charm and artistry.

With a captivating blend of computer-generated CGI forms seamlessly integrating into the real world, expertly led by the dynamic duo of Fleming and Reynolds, As the live-action leads, they exhibit effortless chemistry on-screen, commanding attention and drawing the audience in. The initial wariness between Bea and Cal gives way to a warm and engaging rapport, characterised by witty banter and exasperation.

As Bea navigates the challenges of transitioning through her teenage years, she finds solace in these quirky and unique imaginary friends, embracing the comfort and security of childhood delights. Meanwhile, the film’s relationships take centre stage, led by the charismatic performance of Ryan Reynolds and standout Cailey Fleming, alongside Fiona Shaw. The movie’s greatest strength lies in its nuanced balance between lighthearted moments and emotional depth, evoking a sense of warmth and family, particularly during poignant reunion scenes.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

One of the film’s most endearing relationships is that between Bea and her father, played by Krasinski, which is charmingly tender and heartfelt.

Michael Giacchino’s music score for the movie “If” is a masterclass in emotional depth and thematic complexity. The composer delivers one of the best scores of his career, weaving a sonic tapestry that perfectly captures the film’s poignant exploration of connection whether that’s from human or imaginary. Giacchino’s themes are creative, heartfelt, and sincere, expertly conveying the emotional highs and lows of the characters’ journeys. From the tender warmth to the soaring grandeur of the score’s more uplifting moments, every note feels carefully crafted to elevate the film’s emotional impact. Giacchino’s score is a stunning achievement, showcasing his remarkable composer skill and ability to tap into the heart of a story.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In essence, “IF” is a cinematic celebration of the power of imagination, brought to life through a tapestry of endearing characters and heartfelt moments that left me feeling nostalgic and uplifted. With its colourful jumble of personalities and whimsical storytelling, the film is a captivating journey into the enchanting world of make-believe that will warm the hearts of viewers of all ages. 

IF” hits theatres on May 17. 

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Adventure

Arthur the King is an Epic Masterpiece

Published

on

Arthur the King movie poster (Lionsgate Films)

Here follows the review of Arthur the King, a story of deep connection between people and dogs. Not all heroes wear capes, some have wagging tails and would cross a river (and jungle) for you.

Plot

Desperate for one last chance to win, Michael Light convinces a sponsor to back him and a team of athletes for the Adventure Racing World Championship in the Dominican Republic. As the team gets pushed to the outer limits of endurance, a dog named Arthur comes along for the ride, redefining what victory, loyalty and friendship truly means.

Arthur Foundation

Mikael Lindnord raced through a jungle in Ecuador and after feeding a few meatballs to a stray dog made a friend for life. The dog followed Mikael and his team through the rough terrain. Mikael named the dog Arthur and took him back home with him.

Arthur and Mikael Lindnord (Photo taken by Krister Goransson)

The Arthur Foundation collaborates with various organizations in different countries that work towards animal welfare.

Click on the following links to reach out to Mikael Lindnord.

Movie Review (no spoilers)

The movie is based on the memoir, Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home by Mikael Lindnord, who was the athlete who participated in the Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. It is important to note in the movie they refer to him as Michael Light. Even though the original race took place in Ecuador, the movie changed the location to the Dominican Republic. The original race took place in 2014, while in the movie the race takes place in 2018.

Mark Wahlberg portrays the part of the Mikael and delivers an excellent performance alongside Simu Liu, Nathalie Emmanuel and Ali Suliman. Ukai, a stray dog, was a real champion portraying the role of Arthur. The film takes us through picturesque locations in the Dominican Republic. The suspense was felt at every turn and corner and you are kept glued to the screen with a gripping storyline. The story balances the journey of Mikael and Arthur and eventually joins their path like a jigsaw puzzle.

Mark Wahlberg as Mikael Light (Lionsgate Films)

A fictional backstory is provided of Mikael’s competitive journey as well as the journey that Arthur took to get to Mikael. The movie successfully tells a deep story of connection between dogs and people. If you want to know more about the real story, you can check your local bookstore or Amazon for a copy of Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home

This movie is a 5 out of 5 for me. The connection between Mikael and Arthur is brought to life in this epic masterpiece. Arthur found a home in the heart of Mikael and thanks to Mark Wahlberg and Ukai, this film adaptation of ‘Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home’ became a memorable movie.

The trailer doesn’t spoil any of the important scenes of the movie. Arthur the King has a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. There is no post-credits scene so no need to wait till the end.

Arthur the King Official Trailer (Lionsgate Films)

FILM RATING
Continue Reading

Entertainment

A Must-See Satanic Panic Horror – Late Night With the Devil

Published

on

 

Written and directed by Cameron Cairnes & Colin Cairnes, Late Night With the Devil follows a late night TV host Jack Delroy, fighting the plummeting viewership of his show by welcoming in people from the occult in order to change that, but of course, everything doesn’t go as smooth as planned.

David Dastmalchian as Jack Delroy Late Night With the Devil (2023)

David Dastmalchian has appeared in a lot of films however always in smaller roles including The Dark Knight, Prisoners and more recently The Suicide Squad. This film allows Dastmalchian to take on the lead role of Jack Delroy, the host of the late night show at the centre of this film, and he genuinely does a great job. There’s a real range of emotions which his character goes through during the course of this film and he depicts them so well.

If you’re a fan of the horror genre, you’re going to really appreciate the use of practical effects in this. There’s plenty of stretchy and gooey gore for all of the horror fanatics that will have you shouting at the screen. 

From left to right: Laura Gordon, Ingrid Torelli, David Dastmalchian, Ian Bliss

If you want to hear my full thoughts, check out my review over on YouTube and let me know your opinions in the comments.

Late Night With the Devil will be released in cinemas from 22nd March and on Shudder on 19th April.

FILM RATING
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Popular Now

Advertisement
Advertisement

TRENDING NOW

Trending

CoastalHouseMedia.com is a property of Coastal House LLC. © 2012 All Rights Reserved. Images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies/owners.

0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x