Jane

A revelatory look at Jane Goodall’s life in the bushes of Gombe.

Director Brett Morgen all but invented the modern kinetic 2D-pictures-as-3D style of documentary with his 2002 classic, The Kid Stays in the Picture, and his 2015 Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck addresses its use of montage right there in the title. The relatively straightforward presentation of his new documentary Jane would be jarring if it weren’t because it’s the result of having a wealth of high-quality moving pictures for source material. Jane follows the life and work of scientist Jane Goodall, whose groundbreaking work studying chimpanzees challenged the beliefs held by human males about both chimpanzees and the ability of human females to study them. (Surprise, surprise: Men thought both groups were too dumb to take seriously.)

Goodall’s husband, wildlife photographer Hugo van Lawick, filmed the handsomely preserved 16mm, although that provenance isn’t revealed until the second act, making the many loving shots of Goodall seem overly staged at first. By necessity, Morgen added in the ambient nature sounds — including some wonderfully mixed sequences of chimps losing their shit, though never flinging it — and an appropriately lush score by Philip Glass in full-tilt doodle-deedle-doodle-deedle mode accompanies the picture. Trigger Warning for Mojo Jojo: Jane includes footage of monkeys acting like banana addicts. Stereotypes start somewhere.

Jane
Not rated. Opens Friday at the AMC Kabuki.

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