More noise than signal

Jane Got A Gun

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

We head out to the Wild West for this film, which is saddled with a troubled production history that saw it conclude with an entirely different cast and director than it started with. Perhaps the most surprising thing is that it delivered a coherent film at all, let alone one that’s actually pretty decent.

Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) is just trying to raise her family with her husband Bill ‘Ham’ Hammond (Noah Emmerich), but their past soon catches up with them, a past that’s made known to us through flashbacks that I don’t think I should delve into in any detail as the fractured narrative is one of the stronger aspects of the film, filling in details and providing solid dramatic impact.

In general terms at least, the basics of the plot are that Bill shows up riddled with bullet holes warning that outlaw John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) and his gang are close to tracking them down and that Jane should flee with their daughter. Unwilling to do so, she instead fortifies the homestead to repel an assault, in desperation turning to her embittered former fiancée Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for help which he grudgingly gives.

All of the leads do well, the period detail seems solid and looks good, and as mentioned it’s a rare case where a fractured narrative actually helps build tension and develop character rather than being a pointless annoyance.

I thought this was a really solid, enjoyable film all round, albeit one that doesn’t do anything too spectacular to give it that spark of greatness. There’s no shame in that though, and I’d wager this will still turn out to be better than a good chunk of the films I’ll see this year.