Bentonville Film Festival 2022: The Seven Faces of Jane

Directed by: Julian Acosta, Xan Cassavetes, Gia Coppola, Ryan Heffington, Boma Iluma, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong, Alex Takacs
Distributed by: TBD

Written by Anna Harrison


As an intellectual exercise, “The Seven Faces of Jane” is fascinating: take eight different directors, have them direct different segments in the same movie, and see how it plays out. It’s a grand experiment in art, the type of big swing that should be praised.

As a movie, “The Seven Face of Jane” leaves something (a lot, in fact) to be desired, though this is hardly surprising. With eight directors directing a movie, none of whom are told anything about the movie except for what pertains to their scenes, the end product feels both disjointed and self-indulgent, giving into the worst impulses of Hollywood (to say nothing of the fact that two of the directors are nepotism babies).

The titular Jane (Gillian Jacobs) is a woman who has dropped her daughter off at camp. That’s all that can be said about her, really, because while this type of movie (only one main actor, few locations, no big set pieces, pretension, etc.) is ostensibly made to be a character study, Jane has no remarkable features, due in large part to the movie’s jostling directors. How Jane seems in Gia Coppola’s (dully made) diner scene, where Jane runs into her doppelganger, is entirely different from the Jane we meet in Ryan Heffington’s surreal dance piece. Ken Jeong directs the segment with the most dialogue (and features a “Community” reunion with an appearance from Joel McHale), and this gives us some insight into Jane, though this insight seems at odds with Boma Iluma’s heady scene.

Some of these scenes are engaging enough on their own (Heffington and Boma’s in particular), but given that this is a feature-length movie designed as such and not a curation of shorts, whatever merits these portions might have cannot add up to much of anything. There is also the curious choice to have Jane, a white woman, witness specific cultural acts from her ex-boyfriend (Chido Nwokocha) and a young girl preparing for her quinceañera (Daniela Hernandez)—there’s nothing wrong with this, but the sporadic nature of the movie makes these pockets of “commentary” seem odd, and there is hardly any commentary there to begin with: Jane simply observes these people, briefly interacting with their lives before leaving, and we are none the smarter for it. If Jane is supposed to be a conduit for some greater examination of society here, she fails to be so; it seems more as if the directors for these scenes had one idea, then got stuck with her as a main character and had to write around that. 

In the end, though “The Seven Faces of Jane” exhausts itself trying to be a deep and meaningful piece of cinema, it amounts to very little. Always nice to have a little “Community” reunion, though. Hopefully their movie (it’ll be announced any day now) will be better than this one.

“The Seven Faces of Jane” Clip

“The Seven Faces of Jane” was screened as part of the 2022 edition of the Bentonville Film Festival.

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