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Sundance Film Festival 2022, Night 4

It’s always fun to see one of your favorite actor’s deliver a career best performance. It’s even more fun when that actor is Elizabeth Banks, someone who always delivers and steals the scenes she inhabits. In Phyllis Nagy’s directorial debut, Call Jane, Banks gets to use all her gifts. She is superb in a film that is also excellent (for anyone that thinks I just love everything, you’re basically right, although I do have a few I don’t particularly enjoy every year, and I did have one minor quibble with this film, but it was very very minor and can’t be discussed here because it would give too much away). One of the reasons the film is so great is that it understands what it is - a film about one woman’s entrance into, and involvement with, The Jane Collective - an underground service that provided abortions in the late 60s and early 70s (which at that time were illegal pre-Roe v. Wade) - and yet, it deploys it’s message with unexpected humor from a place of collective knowing. The film shows you unflinchingly what the effect of not having access to safe and legal abortion does to women - it makes them second class citizens - yet, it does so from such a grounded perspective, where there are dire situations occurring, and yet the characters use humor and collective knowing and understanding to show their humanity as characters and not just the issues. Through this excellent deployment of character, the film shows us why the fight for abortion rights is such an important issue - and still is. A great moment occurs in the film where one character passes judgment on another for the circumstances that have found her pregnant and in need of an abortion. Another person quickly states that they are not there to pass judgment but to provide a service. What a concept. Wouldn’t it be great if we stopped judging and tried to help one another instead?

-From January 24th, 2022

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