Enjoy Our Featured Friday Filmmakers!
Enjoy Our Featured Friday Filmmakers!
This is a world premiere! Talkback with the actors after the movie was so cool!
Movie Review From LA Premiere
“Why I Loved ‘Painting Jane’”
By Eric Castro
First, I love gerunds; like me, maybe like all of us, they’re so needy they require the possessive case, yet so rarely receive it-- (as Henry says in The Real Thing, “screw the whales, save the gerund”). Gerunds are also active, participatory. It felt like we were meant to be part of the actual process of this “Painting” journey, not just observers but part of the canvas, the paint. That’s exciting. In a second entendre, it also describes Jane herself—not “Painter Jane” with a fully-formed identity and role already defining her, but rather an ongoing, incomplete work in progress, still actively becoming. (As Shakespeare in Love would say, “good title.”)
A film about old age, dementia, and death—and the fact almost all of us, on one side or the other, are now or will soon be facing these ineluctable crises—such a film might be a lot of things: important, cathartic, worthwhile—but “fun to watch” and “side-splittingly hilarious at times” would not expectedly be at the top of the list. This film was so funny I was a little embarrassed at first to be laughing so much, until I realized everyone else was too. Well written comedy in the face of tragedy is really quite a tour de force.
The relationship between the two sisters was so authentic I believed they were really sisters. While I watched their relationship unfolding, it brought to mind other sisters I’ve known and come to love: the Schlegels, the Dashwoods, Vanessa and Virginia, Hanna and hers. Jane and Cindy seemed to have something all these sisters had, a connection the auteur must have intended, I thought—because some stories can only be told by and through sisters.
The Love Story
When Doris, trying to walk, falls onto the cushions and Lou decides to join her and make the most of it by cuddling up and kissing her—“I love you Miss America”—tears just started streaming (I realized they were mine). Here was a true Love Story, surviving and triumphing over everything, no matter how bad things got—and things had gotten pretty bad. Yet at that moment, Doris was still the prettiest woman and Lou the handsomest man, perfect for each other, still so in love, and so lucky to have each other. I stopped feeling sorry for them and started feeling jealous.
If it is true that 90% of directing is casting, then the casting director here deserves an Oscar for directing. Diana’s performance as Doris is heartbreaking and adorable at the same time, Dino seems easily to be able to play both Lear and the title role in the Warren Beatty Story, and Liza steals her scenes by serenely proving less is more.
The casting may have been alchemy, perfection in all the roles; but just as Hamlet is about him, Painting Jane is about her. Getting to know Jane, to see her coming to real life, coming together in her own life, coming into view—experiencing a great role in the hands of a great actress, was a rare treat. Having scooted into my seat just a few minutes late, if there were any opening credits I missed them, and so other than my friend Liza’s being in it, I had no idea beforehand who or what was in this film. After the first few scenes I started asking myself, where did the producers find this actress?—she’s incredible, so real she doesn’t seem to be acting. This Jane of hers is so clever and funny, so brilliantly talented, so goofy and human, so beautiful and so heartbreakingly wounded. Wow. I actually said that out loud I think. A whole person was gradually appearing before us, complex and multi-dimensional; or was it our own understanding of Jane that was growing—actually, it was both. This was a relationship happening here. And by the end, it was not just the ambulance driver who had completely fallen for her. We all did.
The Directing/ Writing
Many times during the film, I wondered if a scene had been improv’d, because it was so natural, so seemingly unscripted, like a documentary (my favorite film genre). But then I realized it was too funny for that, too well structured, too ‘effortless”— I knew that actually took a tremendous amount of work, of writing, of rehearsing. Who was the auteur of this movie, I wondered? As the title had promised, this was an exciting journey, a work in process proceeding apace from one scene to the next, from one city to the next. And like one of those murder mystery plays, where the audience follows the actors from room to room, I couldn’t wait to see what came next, what clues and mosaic pieces we would find to add to our jig-saw puzzle. Also, when I see every single actor, in large roles and small, giving a pitch perfect performance, I blame a lot of that on the director.
Especially the “conga” song. Haunting, beautiful. Can’t wait for “Soundtracking Jane.”
As someone may have said, this story by its nature had enough “heaviosity” already, it did not need, nor did we want, I think, a “’night, Mother” ending. I’m so glad the ending was changed to a happy one. Besides, our journey needs completion; our lonely gerund needs to find its possessive case. In the last scene with Jane and Doris, their chord, at times diminished, distorted and dissonant, is finally augmented and resolved. The last brushstroke is applied, Doris finally sees Jane for who she really is, and at long last says out loud the magic words: “I love you, Jane.” Our Painting’s complete.”
A story of a daughter who has a long distance relationship with her ageing parents and the story it takes on.