Saturday, 23 April 2016

REVIEW - JANE GOT A GUN (GAVIN O'CONNOR)


Everything and nothing in Jane Got a Gun, a Western that harbours as much ambition as it lacks the will to realise it. Its deeply troubled production can hardly be put aside - it's fully apparent in what appears on screen, in thwarted potential, missed opportunities, and crushing compromise. Though you'd be forgiven for missing all of the above, were it not for the widely-published accounts of woe that befell this calamitous enterprise, since Jane Got a Gun is so lacklustre an effort, so underwhelming despite featuring so much talent, that it could easily pass as just another throwaway genre exercise. It's only for its uniqueness, as a serious-minded, Weinstein-produced, female-led Western, that its origin as a work of considerably greater aspiration and artistry is revealed. And what little of it remains: Gavin O'Connor is more shepherd than director, evidently out of his depth with material that doesn't brashly announce its thematic drives and emotional subtext. He sidles from one scene to the next, pushing forward (and pulling back) a plot that barely needs a push - it's a series of inevitable events travelling toward an inevitable conclusion. O'Connor supplies his own brashness, something to liven it up, in flashbacks that work only for their solid staging, since their purpose is largely superfluous. If this is an attempt at strengthening the dramatic and stylistic import of Jane Got a Gun, it's a resolutely failed one, and nothing in this film makes up for the drought of imagination that seems to have plagued each and all of its key creators.