Call Jane, the past could rise again

Sigourney Weaver and Elizabeth Banks in Call Jane

Call Jane is based on a secret network of women who helped desperate women in Chicago in the 1960s find safe abortion care. They stopped when Roe vs. Wade went into effect. And here we are, 50 some years later, and a service like that provided by the Janes is in need again.

Call Jane is a fictionalized, personalized look at the story told in the documentary The Janes. The documentary talked to the actual women of Chicago who were involved.

Phyllis Nagy directed this version of the story, which took care to give the main character, Joy (Elizabeth Banks), a life and background story before her fateful meeting with Jane organizer Virginia (Sigourney Weaver).

Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver were both terrific in this. Weaver, in particular, played her part as the kind of woman you wish you had for a best friend.

Joy had a husband, a lawyer named Will (Chris Messina). She had a teen daughter, Charlotte (Grace Edwards). She was good friends with her next door neighbor, Lana (Kate Mara). Joy was also weeks into a pregnancy that threatened her life.

The board of the Chicago hospital refused to authorize a termination of the pregnancy, as Joy’s doctor wanted. Joy saw a poster about Jane and called the number.

Elizabeth Banks and Wunmi Mosaku in Call Jane

Gwen (Wunmi Mosaku) picked Joy up for her appointment. She blindfolded her and took her to an apartment where Dr. Dean (Cory Michael Smith) performed the procedure.

I appreciated the way the film explained the procedure. The women were told how long it would take, how it would feel, what they were doing with the different shots and instruments they used. It showed how the women felt afterwards and the type of care needed.

Afterward the abortion, Joy met Virginia and several other women. They fed her spaghetti, told her to take a nap, and explained what would happen with her emotions and her body in the next few days.

Almost before she realized she was getting involved, Virginia had Joy picking up women and helping them afterwards. Soon she was helping Dr. Dean and learning how the procedure was done. There were all kinds of women helping Jane. Nuns, housewives, militants and women’s rights advocates.

Call Jane poster with women's faces showing through the letters of the title.

Joy lied to her family about where she was and what she was doing. It all came to a head when her daughter followed her to an appointment and figured out what was happening.

Jane stopped in 1973 with Roe vs. Wade, but Joy and Virginia pledged to take on the battle for equal pay next as the film ended.

You can rent the film on Prime Video now.

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