“Janie Jones” by Writer/Director David M. Rosenthal, Article by Sharon Abella

April 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

He’s in love with rock ‘n’ roll…. He’s in love with Janie Jones.   “Janie Jones”, 1977 punk rock song by The Clash about British pop singer/madame.

Although the film entitled Janie Jones, is NOT about the British pop star OR about The Clash, it IS about Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola), a hardened lead singer in a rock and roll band, who softens up as his life transforms when he takes on responsibility for an eleven year old daughter that he fathered when he was eighteen,  but never knew he had until he was twenty-nine.  When Mary Ann Jones (Elisabeth Shue), shows up back stage at one of the band’s shows, and drops the news that Ethan is the father to Janie (Abigail Breslin), Ethan is resistant, uncertain that he ever even knew Mary Ann, and knows that a child on tour would be bad for the band’s lifestyle and image, not to mention his lovelife.  Mary Ann abandons Janie at the show, in order for her to enter rehab for a methamphetamine addiction, uncertain when or if she will return.

Unlike Sophia Coppola’s Somewhere, Janie Jones gets left with a musician and not an actor, therefore, the film “lives and dies on the music”, and contains fourteen original songs written by two different artists.  Irish singer and songwriter, Gemma Hayes, wrote the music for Janie’s songs, while, Eef Barzelay of Clem Snide, wrote Ethan’s songs, as well as, scored the film. Director David M. Rosenthal explains, “I didn’t want the same songwriter for Janie and Ethan. They needed to have their own voices. Gemma was my first choice to write all the songs for Janie. She has the ability to write beautiful, effortless songs that seem simple, but are really complex. I knew she would be able to find the voice of a young musician easily, while Eef has enormous range. There’s an evolution to Ethan’s music in the film. Being on the road with his daughter brings him back to something so much more simple and soulful. Once he lets go of ego-based striving to ‘make it’, it becomes about the music.”

Abigail Breslin (Janie Jones), probably best know for her performance in Little Miss Sunshine, 2006, shines as Janie.  She explained that she had NO professional musical experience prior to the film,  she began voice lessons just a few weeks prior to agreeing to the role, that the only place she ever sang before was at a church Christmas party, and that singing is much more nerve-wracking than acting. Along with vocals, Abigail started guitar lessons after she took on the role, and had never really considered playing the guitar before then, but shared that Alessandro Nivola (Ethan Brand), “is such an amazing guitar player and that she picked up tips from him”.

Must see.

Friday April 29, 6:00pm SVA Theater 1 Silas

Saturday, April 30, 2:30pm, AMC Loews Village 7-3

Article by Sharon Abella

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