An exhilarating documentary from Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays In The Picture) reveals an uplifting, heartbreaking portrait when it comes to its pioneering, iconic subject.
His "Jane" in a sense transcends the genre in its portrait of a prescient primatologist, wife, and mother who continues to give her all now an octogenarian in the name of conservancy even serving recently as an adviser on War for the Planet of the Apes.
Britain's petite Jane Goodall went under the stars in a faraway adventure back in the 1960s under the auspices of David Leakey for National Geographic and became intimate with a community of chimpanzees in Tanzania. She would marry her photographer Hugo van Lawick and have a son Grub who would accompany them on many of her missions. Though the wise, affectionate doctor would leave her husband who would spend much time in the Serengeti.
Morgen doesn't dwell on Goodall's enormous status and renowned reputation, but allows parallels to exist between rational thinking species with lives filled with joy and anxiety, elation and grief. The choices are difficult in what is crisply edited and feels like a nifty, snipped desaturation of the genre with troves of footage from van Lawick whittled down to a very manageable run-time.
What at first could be considered by-the-numbers goes way beyond in terms of commitment and understanding in the midst of examples of a polio epidemic and aggression transuding disquietude. Philip Glass's original emphatic pulsating orchestral score propels the amazing observations with Goodall's life through interview, home life, and archival footage. Indelible images include the handing of a banana and the fabrication of a sharpened tool to dig up bugs where in "Jane" being a fly on-the-wall is just about as good as it gets.