Janie Jones

(2010)

Genres: Drama, Musical

Review: Janie Jones

Transcript for Review: Janie Jones

 

IGNATIY:
An irresponsible adult is forced to finally grow up after being left to care of a child. That is a tired premise if there ever was one, but our next film, JANIE JONES, manages to do something interesting with it thanks to some smart writing and good performances. Alessandro Nivola plays Ethan, a rock musician with modest following and not much money. Ethan is waiting to play a show in Little Rock, Arkansas when Mary Ann, played by Elizabeth Shue, walks into his dressing room. He doesn’t remember her, but she says that he’s the father of her thirteen-year-old daughter.
 
Mary Ann then abruptly disappears, leaving the daughter, Janie – played by Abigail Breslin—behind at the venue. Since Ethan’s name is on her birth certificate, a local police officer talks him into taking the girl with him on tour.
 
From there, JANIE JONES stays pretty close to rock-movie clichés and the wayward-parent formula. But the performances are strong and writer / director David M. Rosenthal shows a willingness to take the movie into some uncomfortable territory, like in that scene in the dressing room. What this movie is doing isn’t anything new, but it does it well. It’s a thumbs up from me.
 
CHRISTY: Thumbs up from me, too, and I’m very surprised to say that because of course the first second that Ethan and Janie see each other you know they’re going to end up you know having this lovely relationship together.  It’s how you get there, and a lot of it is with the naturalism and the way it’s shot.  And Abigail Breslin is so good.  There is such directness to her and a purity of emotion with her that things that might have seemed mockish with maybe a more moppity kind of precocious child.  It’s just not there.  
 
IGNATIY: No, and you know, and this movie it’s not like it’s you know putting a twist on the genre.  It sticks you know very close to the beats of this, this sort of formula, but what it does is first of all there’s a lot of understatement.  It really takes its time, and it goes to some pretty you know some pretty dark, emotional places.  There’s a great scene where you know uh the Ethan character has to perform a solo acoustic set in front of this talkative crowd at a bar.  It’s really humiliating.
 
CHRISTY:  It is the ugly side of rock and roll, and yet Rosenthal based this kind of on his daughter he got to know later in life, so I think there’s a great honesty of emotion there because of that.