Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Jane Got a Gun [2016]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB ()  ChiTrib/Variety (2 1/2 Stars)  RogerEbert.com (2 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
ChiTrib / Variety (J. Laydon) review
RogerEbert.com (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review  

Jane Got a Gun [2016] (directed by Gavin O'Conner, story and screenplay cowritten by Brian Buffield along with Anthony Tambakis and Joel Edgerton) is a solid, well played, more or less conventional contemporary Western (though set in the 1890s)

The film begins with Jane Hammond (played quite convincingly by Natalie Portman) looking out to the horizon of her / her husband's homestead somewhere in the middle of the then New Mexico territory to see a figure on horseback approaching, first at a gallop, then ever more haltingly until the horse stops completely with the figure, turns out it's her husband Bill (played again quite well by Noah Emmerich), falling-off of said horse to the ground some fifty yards from the homestead's fence. What happened?  Jane runs to Bill and finds him pretty shot up.  She struggles to bring him home.  With tools at hand -- forceps, a knife, perhaps knitting needle or two -- she pulls out most of the bullets and  fragments lodged in her husband's body.  And in a halting voice, he warns her, "They're coming."  Who?  She knows who, and ... she gets a gun.

... But what makes the story far more interesting at this point is that, though "she gets her gun" ... she _also_ knows that she doesn't stand a chance against "those who are coming" alone.  So ... she gets on her horse and rides over to another homestead a fair distance away and enlists the help of a friend, Dan Frost (played again quite excellently by Joel Edgarton).  'Cept Dan doesn't necessarily want to help Jane much.  Why?  Well guess.  Clearly there has to be a story there...   Stll, Jane didn't choose randomly when she decided to ride-out to Dan to ask for his help.  And while not necessarily initially excited about being asked for such (let's face it, quite urgent and undoubtedly _not_ cost/risk free) help, Dan soon "comes around."  Why?  Well he knows who / the danger that Jane and Dan are facing -- they've all come to New Mexico from the same town in Missouri --  and he knows that he probably wouldn't be able to live with himself afterwards if he did not help Jane (and even Dan) face the threat (that he again, knew, quite well) that they were facing.

This is a Western, but like most Westerns, it is also a Parable ... here reminding us that while we may choose "to run / hide" from some intolerable situation "back home" for a while ... at some point, "we do have to make a stand."

And so ... Jane does, with her gun, and with her friend ... and the rest of the movie follows ;-)

Honestly, a very well done / well acted and very "classical Western" though also made with contemporary issues / sensibilities in mind.

Good job ;-)

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