One of the many messages in “The Truth About Jane” is that even the best intentions can go awry. The same can be said of this Lifetime original movie that, at its most poignant, drifts dangerously close to ABC After School Special territory and at its weakest, plays like a very special episode of “Melrose Place.”
Although writer and director Lee Rose’s script is aided immensely by a talented cast including Stockard Channing, James Naughton and Ellen Muth, the film plays like one long lecture series. In fact, pic could just as easily be called “How Not to Behave as a Parent When Your Child Is Gay.” Granted, it’s an important idea to convey, but it is presented here with all of the subtlety of an anvil to the head.
Janice (Channing) is an overprotective and overly involved baby boomer mother who projects a tremendous amount of her own hopes and dreams on her teen daughter Jane (Muth).
Jane is suffering through the usual horrors and turmoil of her first year of high school, but when she meets the new girl in town, the dynamic and worldly Taylor (Alicia Lagano), she realizes her feelings go beyond friendship.
As Jane’s sexual orientation becomes more apparent, her relationship with her mother starts to deteriorate. Janice, a self-avowed liberal with gay friends, simply can’t accept her daughter’s newfound sexuality.
The tone of the piece, which starts out lightheartedly, fluctuates wildly throughout. Viewers are introduced to this mother and daughter relationship through the most superficial of dynamics such as shopping and eating ice cream. No wonder Jane can’t turn to her mother when the issues become important.
Instead, Jane and Janice learn about accepting one another through Jimmy (RuPaul Charles), Janice’s gay friend. It’s Jimmy’s character that gets to deliver the public service announcement dialogue that the entire movie appears to have been created around.
While the message is a worthy one, the execution, with maudlin music and heavy-handed fadeouts, clouds the delivery. Rose does manage to work in some interesting side stories including a gay teacher who counsels Jane as well as the notion that even gay teen love can be fickle. However, Janice’s betrayal of Jane is so abrupt and complete that any tidy resolution just doesn’t ring true.
Both Muth and Channing are fine in their individual roles, but when playing scenes together, they both resort to emotional grandstanding. Naughton is left with the only centered role and is therefore the most consistent.
Uneven sound quality muddles what is otherwise standard technical quality.