Movie Review: The Seven Faces of Jane

Movie Review: The Seven Faces of Jane

Exquisite Corpse is a surrealist game in which multiple artists contribute to a work without seeing what any of the others are doing, creating poetry or visual art collages. The exercise is supposed to create work that challenges the usual notions of unity and identity by emphasizing disjunction, unexpected leaps, and odd connections.

The Seven Faces of Jane applies this technique to film, with mixed results. The very loose frame is that Jane (Gillian Jacobs) has dropped her daughter Molly off at camp. She drives away, and her journey of indeterminate length takes her through a range of vignettes. She sees the ghost of a friend who has just died (“Guardian” by Ryan Heffington). She picks up a free-living hippie hitchhiker (“The Lonesome Road” by Xan Cassavetes). Etc.

Some of these vignettes pay lip service to the idea of multiple selves, as in Julian Acosta’s “Rose,” where Jane muses “everyone struggles to find a version of themselves that they like.” The problem is that most of the segments are too tied to a bland realism and narrative cliche to create the collective sense of unease and/or delightful disorientation that the surrealists prize. “Rose” itself is a familiar story about two strangers who make an unexpected connection and Learn Life Lessons. Then there are not one, but two predictable short films about ambivalent encounters with old flames: Boma Iluma’s “Tayo” and Ken Jeong’s “The One Who Got Away.” 

There are a couple of exceptions. In Gia Coppola’s “Jane 2,” Jane stumbles into the life of Jane, a coffee-shop waitress who looks just like her. By the end, even the viewer isn’t sure which Jane is which. And in Alex Takács’s very Lynchian “The Audition,” Jane auditions for a part as someone very like Jane, losing her car and maybe herself in the process. 
These segments at least try to engage with Exquisite Corpse’s surreal roots. For the most part, though, despite its adventurous structure, The Seven Faces of Jane shows us features we’ve seen before. 93 min.

Wide release on VOD