There was Jane – and yet there was never Jane. Founded in Chicago in 1965, Jane was the codename for the underground network: By Women, For Women. A phone number was distributed, which women who needed an abortion called—and Jane then brokered a safe abortion, transportation service, and included care for as little money as possible.
Seven members were arrested in the 1972 raid, and each of these women was threatened with more than a hundred years in prison. But they managed to delay the process a bit. See you next year as we await the Supreme Court’s ruling on the case “Roe vs. Wade”. This was the provision that guaranteed women in the United States the right to abortion until it was lifted again last spring.
“Gans” inspired Phyllis Nagy for her film, and she weaves a story about two very different women. One of them is Joy (Elizabeth Banks), married to a lawyer, chic with blonde hair, a teenage daughter and a luxurious home in suburban Chicago.
A near-perfect life, at least Joy doesn’t question it until one day she sits down at the doctor’s: She’s pregnant again – and probably won’t survive the pregnancy due to illness. The clinic refuses to have an abortion because the baby has better luck than its mother. Joey’s husband agrees – he refuses illegal interference. He is a lawyer, a man of law.
Joy comes across a flyer, is rescued, and in the process meets the other main character, the leader of “Janes”. Virginia (Sigourney Weaver) is everything she doesn’t. She lives a life of happiness among her gang of women, who have heated arguments in her untidy living room while eating noodles. Virginia soon reconnects, and Joy is supposed to be the nanny, and soon she’s in the middle of the subway.
Deciding for other women – this only leads to a quagmire of prejudice
There he also finds out that the great doctor that Guinness took to women is not one at all. And, by the way, this turn of phrase is also borrowed from reality. At first, Joy has reservations about helping women whom she gives worse reasons than she had for abortions – but then realizes her mire of misjudgment when she tries to make a decision on behalf of other women.
Phyllis Nagy is a playwright based Carol Todd Haynes (2015) on a novel by her longtime friend Patricia Highsmith. With “Call Jane” she is now directing for the first time and moving straight to the cinema. The movie has a lovely vintage feel, Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver exude such positive energy, and there’s so much warmth to the hustle and bustle of a Virginia home where everyone huddles together – you can almost find this underground romantic despite the high stakes. And while this may sound like a bit of an exaggeration, women in some states in the United States may soon need guidance like this again on how to engage in civil disobedience.
Call JaneUSA 2022 – Director: Phyllis Nagy. Screenplay: Hayley Shore, Roshan Sethi. Camera: Greta Zozolla. Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Wonmi Mosako, Chris Messina, Kate Mara. DCM, 121 minutes. Theatrical release: December 1, 2022.
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