Breslin impresses as unwanted kid
Breslin (Oscar nominated for her supporting role in Little Miss Sunshine) is remarkable as Janie, the 13-year-old no one wants.
Janie gets dropped off with her rock singer dad Ethan Brand (Alessandro Nivola) while her mom Mary Ann Jones (Elisabeth Shue), a former groupie, begins meth rehab. Ethan didn’t even know he had a daughter.
Dad and daughter grow closer
The sensitive chemistry between Breslin and Nivola (an accomplished musician who starred in Junebug) grows as Ethan’s career declines. He drinks heavily. The group begins to break up.
Ethan hears Janie playing and singing a folk-y ballad one day. Cautious at first, he warms to fatherhood.
Folk ballads shine
The duo sings well. Irish singer-songwriter Gemma Hayes wrote the songs performed by Breslin. One of the ballads, Fight For Me, has been released. Eef Barzelay of the band Clem Snide wrote Nivola’s tunes.
Ethan gets more responsible
The two develop camaraderie. “You look like sh-t,” she tells him. “You tell the truth, I like that,” he replies. Ethan decides to go solo. He invites Janie to join him on stage.
As Ethan takes more responsibility for his life, he slowly heals. When he acknowledges Janie as his daughter on stage, it’s a great film moment.
Band drama over the top
The band drama is a long cliché of swearing, drinking, drugs and one night stands. The first half is especially trite as the action lags. Finesse and originality were needed.
Ethan is arrested one night when he beats up an audience member flirting with Janie. His daughter hocks his guitar to bail him out. Ethan’s manager Sloan (Peter Stormare) remains a trusted friend even after he leaves the singer.
Janie Jones is Rosenthal’s semi-autobiographical story.
Ethan comes full circle
Finally Ethan must visit his mother Lily to ask for a loan. Frances Fisher is great as the Chicago socialite meeting her granddaughter for the first time.
Breslin, now 15, performs with a friend in the pop-rock/retro band CABB. (3 out of 5 stars)
Janie Jones 2010 / NR / 1 hour, 46 min
Cast Overview: Abigail Breslin, Elisabeth Shue, Alessandro Nivola, Brittany Snow, Peter Stormare, Frank Whaley, Frances Fisher
Director: David M. Rosenthal
Genre: Indie, Drama, Music