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Jane Got A Gun - DVD Review

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

NATALIE Portman’s Western got off to a terrible start when original director Lynne Ramsey left on the eve of production, prompting Gavin O’Connor to gamely step in amid raised hopes that he would bring the gritty style of his past work such as Warrior and Pride & Glory.

But while Jane Got A Gun certainly does have its moments, the overall film struggles to escape the feeling that it may have been doomed to fail from the start.

The premise has potential. Plucky rancher Jane Hammond (Portman) is confronted with a dilemma when her bullet-ridden, barely alive husband Bill ‘Ham’ Hammond (Noah Emmerich) drops off his horse just yards from their farm. Should she stand up and face her husband’s assailant, Colin (Ewan McGregor), alone or enlist the help of former lover and ex-soldier Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton)?

Given how the odds are stacked against her, Jane opts for the latter and is forced to confront both of their pasts while awaiting her showdown.

O’Connor’s film uses a classic High Noon-style device of waiting for the big confrontation but employs a more revisionist stance in its depiction of its heroes.

Hence, there’s a moral complexity at play whereby each character must assess the missteps that brought them to their current predicament.

But while exploring some decent ideas about regret and the emotional cost of war, there’s something missing. The script certainly isn’t stirring enough, while the lacklustre pace deprives the film of any real tension.

McGregor’s villain lacks any real presence, while even the final gunfight takes place at night (making it hard to see) and contains nothing memorable.

Portman and Edgerton do at least acquit themselves well but the film still struggles to hold much interest beyond counting down to the inevitable.

Once the dust has settled, Jane Got A Gun fades all too quickly from the memory. And that’s even more of a shame given that it’s that rare Western to boast a strong female lead.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 98mins
UK Blu-Ray and DVD Release: August 22, 2016