On DVD this week from The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment comes a tale of strength with steel in “Jane Got a Gun.”
In the rugged west on a quiet farm, Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) has made a life with a little girl and husband Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich). Believing their life is good, it is disrupted in a moment when Bill comes riding up to their home riddled with bullets. He manages to tell Jane that John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) has discovered where they are and is coming for them.
A man from their past has put together a gang of men and their target is both Bill and Jane. Having no other choice, Jane turns to a love from her past Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton). Dan is still carrying hostility towards Jane but when her life is in danger he can not help but agree to help.
Preparing for a battle that is to come, Jane and Dan tell their stories of survival and refocus where their need for revenge truly lies. The planning begins as the gang led by Bishop has no idea what they are in store for when taking on a woman and her family.
The past finally clears the way for the present and nothing will stop Jane from a future with her child!
Portman as Jane gives this character a toughness that I would expect to see of a woman living in the middle of the vast frontier. Cooking, cleaning, farming and raising her child is a way of life, but it wasn’t her only way of life. Portman takes away the makeup and frills stripping this character down giving Jane what it takes to draw in the audience.
Edgerton as Dan is a quiet man in more ways than just not speaking. He keeps his feelings hidden from Jane and anyone else who wants to get inside his head. Carrying his anger with Jane close, it is what he doesn’t know that will be the biggest anger of all. Edgerton carries this character strongly but also has no problem showing moments of human frailty.
McGregor as Bishop gives the right amount of evil and giving his look a bit of dapper change. Darkening his hair and giving himself a mustache that any western bully would be proud of, he gives credence to the western bad guy in tweed clothing. He says all the right words in all the wrong ways which is such a change of character we are use to seeing from McGregor.
Emmerich as Hammond spends most of his time feeling the pain of a few gunshots to the back. The history with Jane comes from a dark place filled with anger and revenge. Dan may not understand it but as their journey to stopping the gang that plagues them gets close, Hammond’s role becomes clear and heroic in many ways.
Other cast include: Boyd Holbrook as Vic Owen, Rodrigo Santoro as Fitchum, James Burnett as Cunny Charlie, Sam Quinn as Slow Jeremiah, Maisie McMaster as Kate, Alex Manette as Buck, and Piper Sheets as Mary.
Anchor Bay Entertainment has an amazing theatrical and home entertainment library that include STARZ original series, children’s entertainment, fitness and sports on DVD and Bluray formats. For more of what they have to offer please visit www.anchorbayentertainment.com.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Jane Got a Gun” four tubs of popcorn out of five. It is quite easy to talk me into watching a western but it’s even more fun when it’s a fantastic western (add popcorn and a great sound system and I’m watching it several times!). There are several stories woven into the film but it is what Jane has gone through that is the center of it all. I love the strength of character and the passion of protecting her family that is portrayed here. Nothing this character does has more importance than protecting those she loves and that have gone out of their way for her. Jane’s loyalty runs deep and I respect that.
Without giving too much away, be prepared for an ending that has all the richness “Jane Got a Gun” truly deserves!
Women in films that have the Western theme have always been part of Hollywood but never in the foreground and they truly shouldn’t have been and shouldn’t be! To find women in westerns is opening up a treasure of history that is wonderful. From Gene Tierney playing Belle Starr in 1941 to Barbara Stanwyck playing the title role in “Annie Oakley” it was clear that actresses had an interest in playing these roles. Betty Hutton would give comedy to the 1950’s “Annie Get Your Gun” and the then heart-throb Robert Taylor in 1951 took a group of women west in “Westward the Women.”
As for these films standing out, it was a hard Hollywood sell. Many of the starlets were beautiful in most of their films which made it difficult to see them in these hard hitting, less than glamorous roles. From Anne Baxter to Rachel Welch, there is a long list of actresses who wanted to take a shot at breaking the western genre glass ceiling.
In the last 30 years the most memorable women westerns would be Sharon Stone in “The Quick and the Dead,” Rene Zellweger in “Cold Mountain,” Hailee Steinfeld in “True Grit” and Hilary Swank in “The Homesman” that would garner lead roles but they are few and fear between. Adding Portman to this list is a must after experiencing her performance.
“Jane Got a Gun” is beautifully written and performed in the surroundings that make an amazing western possible. The cast bring it home, literally, with strong and intense performances. If you are a fan of amazing westerns then add “Jane Got a Gun” to your own home library.
In the end — she turned to her past to protect her family!