First off, let me talk about a performance. No one in Poor Jane has as much to do as Brady Burre. Not just because it's a movie called Poor Jane and she plays Jane, but because she has to make us believe she is broken without losing our compassion, that she is working towards something without ever really understanding herself or her environment, that she is not impulsive or compulsive, but propulsive, moving herself forward at all times for fear of stagnation. She is at times scared for completely irrational reasons, but Burre manages to make them feel as if there is a secret logic behind it all that we just can't see. This isn't merely a character piece, though. It feels more like the study of a floundering piece of humanity as presented through a series of interactions all of which involve a single character. The difference? When we think we understand Jane, she dodges our perceptions of her, because she doesn't understand herself.
Everything in Poor Jane seems designed to make us feel off. The camera work is at times sly, subtle, and when it does get a tough frenetic, it heightens the emotional content, while also disarming us from digging in too deep and making an overall judgment on the scenario. We are kept on our toes by the handheld camera work, and i love that. Very few films I can think of make better use of close-ups than Poor Jane. I'll name them - The Passion of Joan of Ark, Fake Fruit Factory, Applaus. Burre manages to convey so much in those moments where the camera is all hers that it draws us in deeper.
Director Katie Orr does an incredible job with the way the entire film is handled (and I loved her in another Fake Wood Wallpaper film, A is for Alex, and i feel like an idiot not having put those things together in my head, because I'm a GIANT FWW mark and have been ever since Blood Car!) and the script is phenomenal. I can not wait to see her take on more projects, because she has a voice that rings with new clarity. Maybe I didn't catch that this was a Fake Wood Wallpaper production because it's so unlike anything of their's that I've seen. It's not only more mature, even a fairly valid reading of the material is that Jane is a woman who has never fully matured, but it's more targeted, less sprawling. A is for Alex, which Orr co-wrote, has a framework of emotional insecurity upon which a series of secondary, and impressively intelligent, storylines are hung. Here, the story is the building of that emotional framework, and the constant questioning as to whether or not it's up to code.
I adore this film. It speaks to parts of my life that I am maybe not proud of, when perhaps I was a bit Jane myself. There are moment when I thought I was watching a gender-swapped retelling of my stupider days, right down to getting a hotel room for no good reason. Burre's reactions to these scenarios come across exactly like feelings I had when I looked back on my dumber moments. Maybe that's why I connected so thoroughly to Poor Jane.
So, yeah, it's a freakin' great flick. Go see it, though for those of you out there in the midst of a mid-life crisis; handle your shit, and then watch Poor Jane. You'll see why when you get there...
You can see Poor Jane on SAT 3/3 at 7:05PM, WED 3/7 at 12:30PM, and SAT 3/10 at 5:05PM in Redwood City, and on SUN 3/4 at 1:00PM at the Hammer Theatre in Beautiful Downtown San Jose!