The Janes Movie Review – Best Review

The Janes Movie Review: Summer is superhero season, so it’s only natural that “The Janes” should be released now. But instead of brawny, larger-than-life heroes swooping in to save the day, it centers on a group of women armed with kindness and compassion, bravery, and resiliency.

The Janes Movie Review
The Janes Movie Review, Photo: latimes.com

The Jane Collective, which assisted thousands of women receiving abortions when they were still illegal in the late 1960s and early 1970s, is the subject of a documentary directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes. (The narrative movie “Call Jane,” starring Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, is set to hit theatres this fall and explores similar ground.) These brave volunteers came from many areas of life in Chicago, including artists, activists, wives, and moms.

In January 1973, the Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationwide, bringing some respite. However, nearly 50 years later, the narrative of their bravery remains alarmingly pertinent as it appears that Roe is more at risk, creating an undercurrent of suspense throughout.

However, Lessin (who was nominated for an Academy Award for “Trouble the Water”) and Pildes (who is making her directorial debut) are astute to see that they don’t need to up the drama. They focus their cameras on these ladies and allow them to express their stories in a straightforward, unfiltered manner. As you might expect, many of these accounts are harrowing—stories of their own abortions, which they often had to arrange through the mob at considerable expense in a remote motel, or stories of other women they wanted to aid but couldn’t.

Many of the Janes talk about how badly they’ve been treated and how they want to make sure others feel secure and supported—that’s a powerful motive.
The interviews, on the other hand, are so vivid and compelling that they regularly provide the thrills of a spy thriller. Women with common names like Eleanor and Judith describe the lengths to which they’d go to connect with women in need in astonishing detail: secret meetings and code words, changing vehicles and locations.

The Janes Movie Review

“Jane” was the alias they used for low-key adverts in underground newspapers and leaflets distributed throughout the city: They’d say to call Jane and give her a phone number. On the other end of the line, there would be a woman who had most likely been in a similar situation before, ready to listen and assist.

What stands out the most is their determination—their desire to defy what they saw as unjust legislation, even if it meant putting themselves in danger. “The Janes” reminds us that it wasn’t long ago that women needed to be married just to get birth control. On the other hand, the civil rights and anti-war movements raging across the country, including in this city, encouraged a large number of women to become activists. “I think that was the beauty of Chicago,” Jane, only identified as “Peaches,” adds.

The Janes Movie Review
The Janes Movie Review, Photo: Twitter.com

“It was a place where people did things,” says the narrator. Lessin and Pildes use beautiful archive material to recreate this moment of protest, and the Janes describes how assisting women in obtaining safe abortions felt like yet another way to participate during these tumultuous times. The video has a youthful vigor thanks to photos of the Janes from back then—fresh-faced, eager, and determined. We feel like we know them in the end, and they’ve become our friends as well.

Scribbled details about the women requesting their services on piles of note cards, on the other hand, deliver startling jolts of truth. One of them is 19 years old and already has a child. A police officer is one’s father. Simply said, one is “terrified.”

However, given how horrible the stories are, you might be surprised to find some moments of humor. The absurdity of the positions in which these ladies had placed themselves is highlighted by the way they faced up to the cops or handled the uncertainty of being thrown in jail with prostitutes. And it’s always amusing how often they outsmarted the men in command—or at least the folks who felt they were in charge. According to Jane named Katie, being underestimated worked to their benefit in this occasion.

The Janes performed around 11,000 safe, low-cost abortions between 1968 and 1973, according to a title card at the end of the film. Let’s hope they never have to re-establish the collective.

Now streaming on HBO Max

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