Jane: The Good and the Bad

Review: The characters in timely pre-Roe abortion drama ‘Call Jane’ never feel like people who have been around long enough to develop into fully realized persons. The story of “Jane,” the central character, is set in a small town in the ’50s with its own version of the Salem witch trials. This means that she has secrets which she is not telling anyone. But she has the sense to choose the kind of person she wants to be. When she makes that choice, she is not an ordinary woman. She’s not a good person. She’s not a bad person. She never was. She is an outcast who is on the edge of society. But she is also the kind of person who can take care of herself.

That’s the core of the story. It’s why Jane is alive—not because she’s a feminist and a good person. And it’s why she is in trouble again in the course of this story, and why she’s doomed to fail this time, whether she wants to or not.

Like the character of “Jane,” I identify with the way Jane approaches her choice. And at the beginning of the film her choice is not as clear cut as it eventually becomes. The whole film is about her choices and how they turn out. The choice she makes in life is not to play the victim. The choice she makes here takes many forms.

Jane thinks that she is an innocent person. All through the film Jane has her doubts and there are times when Jane is willing to accept a “bad” choice for a “good” one. I’m not sure she fully understands the distinction but she’s not sure she wants to understand it.

“It’s about being a good person, isn’t it?” she asked in her letter to the film’s writer-director, Michael Apted. And she is. But with an ambiguous middle part where she questions how she can be both. For one thing,

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