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TV/Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘Jagged’ (dir. Alison Klayman) | TIFF 2021

Alanis Morissette is one of those unicorn artists. Her influence is evident in endless artists working today, but there’s truly nobody like her. By refusing to follow any of the rules of stardom, she quite literally carved her own way.

Alanis Morissette is one of those unicorn artists. Her influence is evident in endless artists working today, but there’s truly nobody like her. By refusing to follow any of the rules of stardom, she quite literally carved her own way.

This doc from Alison Klayman is a deep-dive into her iconic debut album, Jagged Little Pill, from its conception through its rise to becoming a an unstoppable pop culture phenomenon. I really enjoyed the chronological order the story was told in. At the risk of losing any credibility here, I wasn’t even born yet when Jagged Little Pill  was released, but that certainly doesn’t mean that its impact is lost on me. Hearing this notorious timeline in sequential order made her rise to fame feel all the more real to me. Her connection to her fans is one-of-a-kind and proof that she is such a brave, bold, and badass artist.

Focusing in on the moments of the events surrounding her debut album at the very beginning of her career was a wise decision for many reasons. It can feel overwhelming to watch a documentary that encompasses an artist’s entire career. They’re pretty tried-and-true, and it can be a lot of information to squeeze into a compact timeframe. But it can be much more meaningful to hone in on a single facet of a career than the entire thing.

I thought that the footage from her live shows was edited in nicely. The concert footage never felt random or out of place, and there was a reason for its inclusion. The audience is taken on her first-ever tour with her, experiencing the screaming crowds and backstage moments.

It feels inappropriate not to address the recent controversy that has arisen surrounding this doc from the artist herself. Alanis Morissette has raised some concerns about the intentions of the project and how it handled her intimate revelations. (Warning: Slight spoiler alert ahead. Here we go.) There is a moment in the documentary where it is addressed that some of Morissette’s band members admit to sleeping with as many girls as they possibly could, despite Alanis’ clear objection. It feels unfortunate that Alanis would feel responsible for that considering how young she was and how early on in her career on her very first tour this was. The allegation she makes against the doc is that it’s “salacious” and “not the story [she] agreed to tell,” which might be true, but I don’t want any ill will to be pointed at Alanis herself.

As an entirely digested body of work, Jagged is not an exploitative endeavor. There are times it actually could have pushed a little further, but it remains focused on the Jagged Little Pill era. It paints an honest picture of Alanis Morissette’s rise to fame, framing her artistry in a way that lends itself to the immense respect she has earned since this album’s release.

Jagged premiered during the Toronto International Film Festival this year. HBO is set to release the film as part of Bill Simmons’ Music Box series later this year.

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