Grace and Frankie, Barbarella, the Jane Fonda Workout, activist, actress, L’Oreal spokeswoman, mother, feminist. All of these come to mind when you hear about Jane Fonda, but it’s not until you sit down to watch Susan Lacy’s new HBO documentary Jane Fonda: In Five Acts do you truly appreciate everything she has accomplished in her 80 years.
Divided into five acts, Lacy’s new documentary delivers a frank and intimate insight into the icon. The first four acts of the documentary are marked by the men in her life, Henry – her father, Vadin, Tom, and Ted – her three ex-husbands.
The “Henry” chapter looks at the relationship with her father, a distant one at that. He was the biggest movie star in Hollywood. She wanted her father’s attention, but he is emotionally unavailable to her.
Tragedy strikes the Fonda family as her mother commits suicide when Jane was barely a teenager.
Jane and Henry would go on to make On Golden Pond in the early 80’s. Fonda recalls touching her father’s arm, something that wasn’t scripted and she tears up at the memory. A daughter yearning for her father’s love. It’s a touching moment.
“Vadin” is an examination of her first marriage to director Roger Vadim, and the Barbarella chapter of her life. She reflects on the opening scene and what Vadim wanted to achieve and her process of going through that. It was also during that relationship and being on the French Riviera that she immersed herself in Vietnam and earned the nickname Hanoi Jane.
She went to North Vietnam and got a perspective from the other side, spending time on military bases and was vilified. Lacy opens the documentary with an archive tape of Nixon asking, “What is the problem with Jane Fonda?” It’s hard to believe that to this day, Fonda’s activism in Vietnam receives such hate.
It’s not just in the political world, in film, Fonda, long before the #metoo movement, made Nine To Five. The reminds about issues faced by women in the workplace. The film, made in 1980, remains relevant in 2018. Again, it was something Fonda fought to have made.
Her film career is covered, as well as her contribution to the video industry. Laugh as you may, but the Jane Fonda workout videos spawned the home video industry and was the biggest selling video of all time. She was the original fitness guru.
There’s no shortage of archive footage, movie clips. The final chapter of the documentary is appropriately titled “Jane.” It’s a chapter of a woman who is still here, still going, starring in a hit TV show, still campaigning for women’s rights. She reconciles with her childhood and the loss of her mother and for anyone who has lost their mother, it’s a moment that strikes the heart deep. You feel her pain, her words. This is the chapter, the on-going one of a woman who has become her own after those chapters in her life.
Nixon, there is no problem with Jane Fonda. She reveals herself through honest discussions, Lacy unearths rare footage and photos that piece together just what makes Jane Fonda the incredible female that she is today. She battles through her struggles and she is still “changing.” It’s an inspiring documentary to check out for fans and non-fans alike.
Jane Fonda: In Five Acts airs on HBO on Monday September 24