Photo by Wilson Webb. Courtesy of Road Attractions.

Phyllis Nagy’s “Call Jane” is fatally relevant, and almost painfully so. Not because the movie is bad…but more because the timing is either terrible or brilliant, and I can’t decide which.

Joy (Elizabeth Banks) is having another baby. She and her husband, Will (Chris Messina), and their teenage daughter, Charlotte (Grace Edwards), couldn’t be happier about it, although Joy’s dizziness seems like a distant concern – until she passes out and they discover that the problem is much more serious. The doctor tells her that her pregnancy is affecting her health and that she has a 50% chance of surviving labor. The best solution to this problem, he says, is not to be pregnant. But, unfortunately, the hospital board won’t let her have an emergency abortion.

So, Joy decides to take matters into her own hands. She tries to convince the doctors to help her, and even the receptionist suggests taking a fall down the stairs. But, eventually, Joy finds a flyer on the street that reads, “Pregnant? Anxious? Acquire help! Call Joan. And she does.

And that’s how we’re introduced to the Jane Collective, the actual organization that existed from 1969 to 1973, until Roe v. Wade makes their services useless. Jane is an underground organization of women who help others to have abortions. And Joy’s journey throughout the film is a rough estimate of what the Jane Collective has been up to. The story is fascinating and there are already countless films about it, documentaries and dramatized. So what sets “Call Jane” apart? It certainly has more big names, with Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver topping the list. But a star-studded cast isn’t the deciding factor, one way or another, in a movie like this.

There aren’t too many twists and turns in the history of the Jane Collective. Women manage to do exactly what they set out to do. But here’s the weird thing about this film: Since its premiere at Sundance in January, the context has completely changed. Following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, one has to wonder what the cinematic experience would have been like without the resultant dread of this development as context.

Honestly, that probably would have faded more into the background than it does now. The ending of the movie seems almost too on the nose, with everyone cheering for a win, but then how else would a movie about the Jane Collective end? With today’s context, however, the ending feels much more emotional, with a sad twist of irony. And that was just the complexity that a movie like this needed.

“Call Jane” is worth watching, and maybe it will do some good in putting our own times into context. The film will be screened in October at the Midtown Cinema.

Midtown Cinema is located at 250 Reily St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit

October Events At the Midtown cinema

Saturday morning cartoons
Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m.

Down in Front presents
“A Night to Dismember”
Friday, October 14, 9:30 p.m. (approximately)

National Theater Live
Sunday, October 16, 5 p.m.

3rd of the Burg Movie Night
“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
Friday, October 21, 9:30 p.m.

vidjam of horror
Sunday October 23

Moviate presents
Sunday October 30

Special Halloween screenings

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Friday, October 7, 9:30 p.m.

“Friday the 13th” (1980)
Saturday, October 8, 9:30 p.m.

“Halloween” (1979)
Sunday, October 9, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 15, 1 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Triple feature “Evil Dead”
Sunday October 16

“The Evil Dead,” 3 p.m.
“Evil Dead II”, 5:15 p.m.
“Army of Darkness”, 7:30 p.m.

“Hocus Pocus” (1993)
Saturday, October 22, 11 a.m.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Saturday, October 22, 9:30 p.m.

“Halloween” (1979)
Sunday, October 23, 7:30 p.m.

“Friday the 13th” (1980)
Friday, October 28, 9:30 p.m.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975)
Saturday, Oct. 29, 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

“Cry” Marathon
The Five “Scream” Movies
Sunday, October 30, from 12 p.m.

“A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984)
Monday, Oct. 31, 7 p.m.

“Friday the 13th” (1980)
Monday, October 31, 7:15 p.m.

“Halloween” (1979)
Monday, October 31, 7:30 p.m.

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