When one of the first scenes of Jane Hash’s documentary, Plain Jane, begins, you know you’re in for wild ride.
She shows all the crazy places she used to hide as a kid — a washing machine, in the kitchen sink, under furniture — and then she interviews her mother, who pulls no punches when she talks about the audacity of hospital staff when she was born. (“Put Jane in a home,” they told her).
But her mother was not capable of such a thing, and instead brought the tiny Jane home not sure of what the future would bring. Torrid, hysterical and utterly mind-opening, Plain Jane is unlike any documentary you’ve ever seen. Showing the entirety of her life from birth to now, the heart of this film is on the stranger side of things.
If you were a fan of Insomniac with Dave Attell, where he shows all the freaks he meets as the traverses a city late at night, then you’ll love this documentary. As a wheelchair-user, I’ve heard of a lot of stories of people disabilities making their situations work, but Jane’s story is definitely memorable, such as when she went to school in the 1980s, her mother had to attend with her, per the district’s orders.
Perhaps however one of the most touching parts is the candid interview with her mother (who passed away in 2011) who shares what goes on inside a parent’s mind when they have a child with osteogenesis imperfecta.
After public school, Jane attended community college to study business, but it was at this time she developed drinking problem. One of the main reasons she drank — Jane’s fractured relationships with her older siblings who made it very clear they didn’t want her around.
Because of this stressful upbringing, the neighborhood bar that she could roll to became her vice (I think many of us can relate to this). The interviews with everyone in Jane’s small town are quite something. After a heavy night of drinking that led to a few broken bones, she swore off drinking and has been sober for over 10 years now.
I just love the forthrightness of her storytelling, and her strength to just quit and move on. Every young girl should watch this documentary to see how strong they can really be. When the documentary moves on to Jane’s life, after moving out of her mom’s house, this is where it gets interesting.
It shows it all, her sexuality (and bisexuality), her friendship with her transgendered friend, her studying of Eastern medicine, even her attending a nudist pagan festival and her romantic interlude with her girlfriend and a male friend whilst there (in a tent no less). This documentary is definitely not meant for middle America grandmothers.
What I love most about this documentary is the brutal honesty it puts forth. Sure, it will make some uncomfortable, but that’s the way I like my documentaries, challenging everyone who sees it to see the realities beyond their four-walled world.
Finally released on DVD after several years of filming and editing, Plain Jane is without a doubt a true labor of love by Jane and director Tom Trainer. It makes The Little Couple seem like Leave it to Beaver, and I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what Jane intended.
– Watch the trailer for Plain Jane The Shockumentary
– Get the DVD: Plain Jane The Shockumentary
– Follow Jane’s podcast, Hash it Out With Jane
What would a documentary of your life show?