“Jane Got a Gun” – a movie review by Gary Chew
As a Western, Jane Got a Gun looks quite authentic. It was shot around Santa Fe. Landscapes are top notch in north central New Mexico. There’s plenty of such of terrain to see in this new movie directed by Gavin O’Connor.
The rural sets of isolated homesteads and a wide-spot-in-the road town where most of the action takes place have a natural look and feel. The plot, although certainly not long on originality, is a pretty good one: a young mother and wife in the Old West fending off bad guys while doing all she can to make life better and safer for her little girl as well as her seriously wounded husband after his gun play with a typical bad guy gang with an oily boss. This is reminiscent of Jennifer Lawrence’s first film, Winter’s Bone.
Jane would have been a been a pretty good picture if the script had been written well and an effort made to avoid some of the cliches that have made many Westerns bite the dust. Then about those long pauses in the dialogue, apparently used to bring a sense of gravity for a particular moment that doesn’t have any: maybe a good deal less of those, I’d say.
After watching about half of Jane, I began to keep my eyes shut for longer periods of time (Not just blinks). Visually, I knew, after that small amount of running time, there was little that was soon to happen I’d need to know about. So, I just listened to the silence through those long stretches of zero conversation. The pace is not so much slow as it is simply sagging.
O’Connor’s has cast some good actors. Natalie Portman, who looks marvelous in a ten-gallon, is one of the producers of Jane and does the title role. Joel Edgerton is Jane’s former fiance who’s trekked all the way from Missouri to further west to find her, and Noah Emmerich is Jane’s shot-up spouse. His name is Bill. And the other actor that made me want to see the film, in the first place, is Ewan McGregor; he plays Colin, the oily boss guy leader. They’ve got Ewan with his hair all slicked back with a generous mustache that seems like it might be well lubricated too. I’ve never seen Mr. McGregor do this kind of role. He made the stretch hiding his accent, but his performance in not comparable to others I’ve seen him do in previous films.
The movie seems to want to perk itself up with several scenes in which characters are tortured. Pain is a big thing. Such stuff, along with copious gun play, puts Jane Got a Gun into a spotlight of darkness even though the pristine natural background is easily seen just beyond all the staged tumult.
It also jumps back and forth in time. It’s a little bit confusing, at times, about the whereabouts the story is taking place and the fact that Edgerton and Emmerich, from a distance, are not easily distinguished from one another, especially when they have on their hats.
The most weighted and predictable cliché would be how Jane Got a Gun concludes. It comes with no surprise, since the script has not had anything clever about it, whatsoever, from the beginning. How could it end any other way?
Many movies today showcase heroic females who kick ass and seldom ask questions before or after doing so. Natalie Portman, Jennifer Lawrence, Reese Witherspoon, etc., are surely wanting to stretch themselves as formidable women who, when pushed, win the draw and laugh all the way to the bank.