Jane movie review: Less of a thriller, more of a slow spin out of control

Jane /

Jane, a Madelaine Petsch and Creator+ production, is billed as a psychological thriller. The film, set in high school during it’s lead Olivia Brooks’ (Petsch) senior year, is a simmering take on the effects of academic pressure compounded with grief.

We’re introduced to Olivia in the aftermath of her friend Jane’s (Chloe Yu) suicide. Though she comes from a loving home with parents genuinely interested in her wants and desires, Olivia is friendless. She spends her days living out a routine that’s literally set to a clock. Her watch chimes, her phone dings, every second of her life is preset and determined.

It’s clear from the first few moments of the film that Olivia is someone who desperately needs control. Without it, she’s lost. Unfortunately, the loss of Jane and how she feels about it isn’t something that she can curate. Neither is her obsession with getting into Stanford.

For high school students it’s a classic tale. There’s always a student who has their heart set on one college and one college only. For Olivia that’s Stanford. If she’s not in her school uniform, the teen is usually bedecked in Stanford paraphernalia. Jane will not let you forget that Olivia wants to go to this school. Just like her friend, it’s haunting her. And, the only person who can seemingly quiet some of that noise is her estranged friend, Izzy (Chloe Bailey).

Jane spins its lead out of control for an interesting look at grief and pressure

Petsch and Bailey play off each other well. They’re able to balance the awkward, stilted quality of trying to rekindle a friendship that’s been dying on the vine with the warmth of a long term connection that speaks to history. You can see the fractures in their characters’ relationship and what it used to mean to them.

It’s the acting that truly carries Jane. From the creepiness of Yu’s silent portrayal of the titular teen, Petsch’s unraveling spool of a performance as Olivia loses herself, to the wall Bailey puts up where Izzy is both coolly indifferent and an incredibly supportive friend.

The plot, which spirals into a Mean Girls-esque burn book that gets out of hand, isn’t the most stimulating but this is a smart film. It hooks you with its storytelling.

It’s the little choices that compound. All the Stanford paraphernalia, Izzy’s addiction to her phone and the way she tends to ignore Olivia for her other friends, Jane popping up everywhere and becoming an embodiment of Olivia’s emotions, the books the students read that point to Olivia’s spiraling out of control, the way the costuming displays when Olivia is up tight and when she’s letting loose in her mind. All of it.

Jane is a study in control. About its loss and what one girl will do to get it back. Is the movie thrilling? Not really but that doesn’t seem to be the point. The psychology is the real meat of the film and makes it worth the watch.

What can grief do to you? How can it change you? Who are you when everything seems to be slipping away? These are all questions the movie asks as Olivia begins to unexpectedly lose what she holds dear just like she lost her friend.

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The psychological thriller, JANE, premiered in select AMC theaters on Friday, August 26 and will be streaming exclusively on Creator+ Friday, September 16. Stay tuned to Hidden Remote for more movie news and coverage!