The Seven Faces of Jane movie review (2023)

Best in show is a tie between Bomo Illuma’s segment where Jane meets an ex-lover named Tayo (Chido Nwokocha) on a beach where, ten years earlier, it became painfully clear that racial and cultural differences (she’s white, he’s black) were destined to prevent them from going far; and Jeong’s segment, which reunites Jacobs with a “Community” pal Joel McHale as another of Jane’s former flames. Illuma’s use of different textures, colors and light schemes to contrast past and present evokes the work with Barry Jenkins, and it’s remarkable how much excruciating detail the segment manages to provide about the reasons for the couple’s failure without spelling anything out. Much of the dramatic heavy lifting is done through close-ups by Jacobs and Nwokocha and by Alex Krispin’s score, which serves as the endoskeleton of the entire project, though it’s too subtle to proclaim that aspect of its function.

Jeong’s segment is the opposite: McHale’s character meets the heroine on a hiking trail, leading to a walk-and-talk that feels like this film’s answer to Richard Linklater’s series of “Before” movies. Its centerpiece is a nearly six-minute long unbroken shot of the characters talking about past mistakes and regrets, scrubby hills behind them. The dialogue is terrifying in the way that serious conversations between exes tend to be. It is as embarrassing and touching as a confessional exchange overheard in public. Jacobs and McHale had searing comedic chemistry on “Community,” and Jeong certainly drew on his familiarity with them as both artists and people. But there’s more going on here than fan service. Both actors show sides of their talent that “Community” never exploited. And there is a raw vulnerability to both that is disarming.

Did I like “The Seven Faces of Jane”? I love the idea of ​​it, I love that it exists, and I’m not sure how much I can ultimately say for or against it, given that everything good and bad is baked into the methods that the performers and the filmmakers have committed to . Reviewing a film so unusual, uninterested in playing by conventional rules, and dedicated to the concept of freedom (heck, the consequences) might be like reviewing a game of charades. Most of the time it’s just a game, something you do to pass the time with friends. But once in a while someone pulls a title out of a hat and performs it with such virtuosity that it makes you want to give them an Oscar. Too bad it’s not possible on this platform to give each segment of an anthology its own star rating. If there were, Jeong and Illuma’s segments would get three and a half stars. The rest run from half a star to two: you know them when you see them.

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