Call Jane Parent Guide
This film is extremely effective at conveying its message without sensationalism or emotional manipulation.
Parent Movie Review
After fainting and waking up in the hospital, Joy (Elizabeth Banks) is given a medical diagnosis no pregnant woman wants to hear. She has a serious medical condition and if she does not terminate her pregnancy she is at high risk of death. Faced with a terrible dilemma, Joy determines that her highest priority is remaining alive to care for her teenage daughter (Grace Edwards) and decides to end the pregnancy. But this is 1968 and abortion is illegal in the state of Illinois.
When Joy’s appeal for a medical exemption is rejected, she becomes desperate. She eventually finds her way to “Jane”, a collective of women who organize abortions for anyone who can pay the doctor. This experience becomes a transformative event for Jane. Her procedure done, she becomes increasingly involved with the group until she is completely indispensable. There’s one big problem: neither her husband nor her daughter have any idea of what she’s really doing with her time…
I’m going to deal with the elephant in the room right up front. Abortion is an extraordinarily controversial issue with passionately held views on either end of the spectrum and lots of ambivalence in the middle. I am not a moral philosopher, so I will not be expounding on the rights or wrongs of the procedure or my own complicated opinions. I am a movie critic so that’s what I’m going to do: assess this production as a work of cinema.
As a film, Call Jane is very well done. Yes, it’s a movie-with-a-message and it’s extremely effective at conveying that message without sensationalism or manipulation. The writing is crisp, with only the occasional bit of self-indulgence, and the pacing is excellent. The acting, in particular, is top shelf. Elizabeth Banks imbues Joy with determination, desperation, and a totally believable evolution from self-deprecating housewife into activist powerhouse. As Joy becomes more aware of the struggles of other women, she grows more confident in her own intelligence and ability to change people’s lives. She is ably matched on screen by Signourney Weaver, who is bold, strategic, and world-weary as Virginia, head of Jane. The negative content is disappointing (Joy smoking pot, unnecessary profanity, non-explicit strip poker) but it doesn’t make the movie any less affecting.
Whether or not you will like Call Jane depends almost solely on your views on abortion. If you are pro-choice, you will see this movie as a battle cry for resistance and push-back against misogynistic fanatics in a post-Dobbs world. If you are pro-life, you will be grieved by the number of abortions portrayed in the film and will be further motivated to protect unborn lives from misguided activists. In many ways, it’s a Rorschach test for our times – we see what we expect to see. Credit to the producers: it’s certainly timely.Directed by Phyllis Nagy. Starring Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, Chris Messina. Running time: 121 minutes. Theatrical release October 28, 2022. Updated January 12, 2024
Watch the trailer for Call Jane
Rating & Content Info
Why is Call Jane rated R? Call Jane is rated R by the MPAA for some language and brief drug use.
Violence: Rape is briefly mentioned. There is a dim view through a window of policemen beating protesters with truncheons. A woman almost throws herself down the stairs to end a pregnancy.
Sexual Content: A married couple make out passionately in bed a couple of times. On one occasion, the woman is wearing only a bra and underwear but the lighting is extremely dim. The couple have a conversation with some sexual innuendo. A married man kisses a woman who isn’t his wife. Rape is briefly mentioned. There are frequent abortions performed on screen with no nudity: women are clothed and draped but the medical instruments are visible and the details of the procedure are described as it is carried out. A woman verbally describes the anatomy of female genitalia. A man and woman play a game of strip poker: there is lots of innuendo but no explicit nudity.
Profanity: The script contains over three dozen swear words with eight sexual expletives, eight scatological curses, 18 terms of deity, a couple of crude anatomical terms, and a minor profanity. There is also a crude term for illegitimacy.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Multiple characters, including main characters, drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes throughout the film. A main character smokes marijuana.
Page last updated January 12, 2024
Call Jane Parents' Guide
What do you believe about abortion? Where do your beliefs come from? Have you ever discussed the issue with someone with different views? What did you learn from each other? Do you believe it’s possible to balance diverging opinions on this issue in our society? What do you think the legal framework for abortion should be wherever you live? Do you think governments should make decisions about abortion or do you think pregnant women should decide? Why?
The group depicted in the movie was real. For historical information about the Jane Collective and other underground abortion facilitators in the pre-Roe era, you can follow these links.
Wikipedia: Menstrual Extraction
Related home video titles:
There are an increasing number of films on the topic of abortion, most of which tilt pro-life. The most visible of these is Unplanned, the story of a Planned Parenthood employee who has a life-altering experience while assisting in an abortion and becomes a pro-life activist. October Baby tells the story of Hannah, a young woman who learns that she was adopted after a failed abortion Now she’s going in search of her reluctant birth mother.
From the opposite perspective comes Never Rarely Sometimes Always, the story of a pregnant teenager who travels out of state to get an abortion.
Feminist activism takes a much lighter turn in Misbehaviour. This British film highlights a group of British feminists who organize a protest against the 1970 Miss World pageant in London.