5.5/10
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11 user 2 critic

Ask for Jane (2018)

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1:29 | Trailer
A group of determined Midwestern women begin providing safe but illegal abortions in this 1960s period drama based on a true story.

Director:

Rachel Carey

Writers:

Rachel Carey, Cait Cortelyou (original idea)
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cody Horn ... Janice
Cait Cortelyou ... Rose
Sarah Steele ... Donna
Sarah Ramos ... Maggie
Chloë Levine ... Barb
Ben Rappaport ... Bill
Alison Wright ... Ada
Michael Rabe ... Charlie
Sophie von Haselberg ... Joyce
Megan Channell ... Linda
Margot White ... Harriet
Melissa Marsala ... Mary Frattini
Lilly Englert ... Patty
Danny Flaherty ... Tim
Phil Burke ... Gary
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Storyline

BASED ON A TRUE STORY Chicago, 1969 - Imagine a world where abortion is punishable by prison, and getting birth control is nearly impossible. As a result, women die every day from taking matters into their own hands. When a pregnant student at the University of Chicago attempts to take her own life, Rose (Cait Cortelyou) and Janice (Cody Horn) find a doctor willing to perform the procedure in secret to save the woman's life. Sparked by this experience, Rose and Janice form the Jane Collective: a secret organization to help other women obtain safe and illegal abortions. Operating like a spy network, complete with blindfolds and code names, the Janes help thousands of women - but they can't hide from the police forever. Written by Cait Cortelyou

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Taglines:

If society won't help them, they're just going to do it themselves.

Genres:

Drama | History

User Reviews

 
Just Because You Have an Important Message Does Not Mean You Have A Great Movie
7 June 2019 | by adkulak11See all my reviews

It's a shame that the issue of abortion is still one that plagues the political dialogue. With the recent law passed in Alabama, we are one step closer to the nightmarish implications women faced in pre-Roe v. Wade America, where obtaining an abortion was difficult, painful, and often impossible. The Jane Collective, the basis for "Ask for Jane", was one of the groups who defied the laws, helping women obtain safe abortions and providing a support network. Unfortunately, the brave efforts of these women has not received the film adaptation they deserved in "Ask for Jane".

For starters, the main thing holding this film back is it's budget. According to what I can find online, the film had a budget of $250,000. Even when considering that shoestring budget, this film is incredibly lacking. Films like "Thunder Road" (with a budget of $200,000) and "Upstream Color" ($50,000) look leagues better than "Ask for Jane". Perhaps that is because, unlike those other films (or most low-budget films, for that matter), "Ask for Jane" is a period film, set in the late 60s/early 70s in Chicago. In my initial viewing, I wasn't aware of the exact budget, but began to notice that 90% of the scenes were shot indoors, and the framing of the few outdoor scenes was very tight and claustrophobic. I soon realized that this is because if the shots were any wider, we'd catch the modern stores and cars they were walking past. I will give the filmmakers credit that I wasn't able to catch any Starbucks or SUVs in the background. However, with limited resources, a film should be able to trick it's viewers into not seeing it's shortcomings. This film fails in that respect, with the cheap synthetic costumes, hastily decorated starter apartments, and all cars or other expensive spectacle occurring offscreen (save for one powder-blue Oldsmobile the film was able to secure).

Even if the budget was sufficient for this film, there were still other issues to overcome. A rushed feel, a lack of coverage, and a script that has characters randomly being introduced and dropped until almost the very end of the 108-minute film kill the pacing of the project.

The tone of the film is also over the place. Abortion is probably one of the most difficult subjects to tackle in storytelling, and "Ask for Jane" can't decide what tone it wants to take. In some scenes, abortion is treated with solemn urgency. In others, it's treated with blase flippancy ("My parents are really religious", one pregnant character cries. "So just get an abortion", says her roommate, with the significance of telling her to run to the supermarket to get milk.) In one very strange moment in a montage, abortion is played for comedy, when a frazzled mother of four chokes out "I CAN'T have another."

For the most part, the performances were fine. The main seven women portrayed their roles with conviction, and the peripheral characters fulfilled their purposes. The only weak link was main character Rose's fiance, who woodenly leaves her after her involvement in The Jane Collective would potentially ruin his chances of running for "office" (what office or political platform he takes, the movie doesn't seem to really care about). His main problem is that he doesn't seem convincingly upset about Rose's part-time job as an abortionist, so his decision to leave her doesn't make any sense.

The biggest shame of "Ask for Jane" is that I wish a better film would be made about The Jane Collective. This group helped thousands of women reclaim their lives and their bodily autonomy. However, the filmmakers seem to be mistaken that historical importance is a substitute for competent production design, nuanced direction, or defined characters.


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Country:

USA

Release Date:

17 May 2019 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ask for Jane See more »

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