‘Call Jane’ delivers themes of equity, race, and women’s rights via an entertaining drama about a ‘60s Chicago outfit providing safe abortions.
Are you looking for movie inspiration to help drive the fight for women’s rights around reproduction freedom and equality? Call Jane, debuting in the Premieres section of Sundance Film Festival 2022, packages the hot topic of abortion rights via an entertaining melodrama about The Jane Collective, a ‘60s Chicago outfit providing safe but illegal abortions. Co-stars Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver deliver themes of equity, race, and women’s rights alongside audience-friendly storytelling one step above sugary romance. Director Phyllis Nagy and writers Hayley Schore and Roshan Sethi believe movie calls-to-action are more impactful when bundled with a feel-good storyline and likable characters.
It’s the summer of ’68, and suburban Chicago housewife Joy (Elizabeth Banks) watches her pretty widow neighbor Lana (Kate Mara) read Sue Kaufman’s best-selling novel Diary of a Mad Housewife. Joy could be a character in Kaufman’s book. She’s intelligent and well-educated. Her attorney husband, Will (Chris Messina), underappreciates her despite helping write his legal briefs and memos.
Joy’s also facing a life-threatening pregnancy. When hospital doctors refuse to grant a medically indicated abortion, Joy calls a number on a mailbox flyer instructing anxious and pregnant women to ‘Call Jane.’ One phone call later, Joy meets the Jane Collective, an organization providing women with safe but illegal abortions. The Jane Collective saves and changes Joy’s life. She soon joins Virginia (Sigourney Weaver), the leader of Jane, and the other brave women running the outfit, helping countless women gain access to safe abortions.
Banks and Weaver perform in laugh-out-loud tandem like the best comedy duo. It’s funny watching Joy grimace on cue every time hippyish Virginia refers to her as ‘Jackie O.’
Actresses Wunmi Mosaku and Aida Turtorro provide standout support as Jane Collective volunteers inspire Joy to take a stand.
Cinematographer Greta Zozula and production designer Jona Tochet bring ‘60s Chicago to vibrant life. Editor Peter McNulty maintains clear and concise storytelling. Nagy, the arthouse hit Carol writer, shows a knack for crafting confessional drama and urgent topics into polished, mainstream entertainment like Call Jane. There’s not a dull or controversial moment in the movie. If empathy around the abortion debate is a creative goal, Nagy is wise to craft Call Jane into a more heartwarming film than heartbreaking. Every cause needs inspirational heroes, and Banks and Weaver more than deliver.
Director: Phyllis Nagy
Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina, Wunmi Mosaku, and Kate Mara
Production Company: FirstGen Content
Distributor: Roadside Attractions
Release Date: TBD
Behind the Curtain: Jane Collective co-founder Heather Booth surprises Call Jane director Phyllis Nagy and the film’s cast on the post-premiere Zoom Q&A. Booth shares the film’s first review in the chat feature by calling the film’s spirit to be true.