A few tidbits about the prolonged production of Jane Got a Gun could create scepticism for a movie goer right off the bat: the change of director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk About Kevin) to Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) and the frequent switches among the cast due to various conflicts (Jude Law replaced by Bradley Cooper, who was then replaced by Ewan McGregor) are a couple of examples.
However, a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover; such is the case for Jane Got a Gun. Lynne Ramsay may have delivered a film much more multi-layered, but Gavin O’Connor’s straightforward Western is an entertaining story of redemption and good versus evil.
Jane Got a Gun begins in the middle of distress and unspools through many flashbacks of happier times. For instance, we first see Jane (Natalie Portman) as a hard-boiled mother who taps into her protective instincts when she learns that the cold-blooded Bishop Boys are looking for her. Jane’s history is told through cross-dissolves when she’s reminded of her past, which happens often since she asks her old flame Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for assistance.
The indirect and overly generous narrative makes it hard to keep up with passing years, but the information that the audience is supposed to obtain is coherent and not too emotionally simplistic. Some audiences may be able to tell where most of the story is headed, but they’ll still be impressed by the performances given by Portman, Edgerton, and McGregor (all are reuniting after serving time in a galaxy far, far away). The film also has the audience anticipating a climactic showdown due to the tension being built up so well.
I’ve heard people proclaim Westerns as a dead genre. I want to believe this genre can survive, but it doesn’t help that audiences were unfairly rejected from Jane Got a Gun due to a fleeting theatrical run (zero Canadian dates) and uninterested marketing. Jane Got a Gun deserved more attention – it’s a proper return to a forgotten genre.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie