Jagged is a nostalgic look at singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette’s meteoric rise to superstardom after the release of Jagged Little Pill. The documentary is more than just the standard look back at a seminal album, however. It also showcases what the music meant back then and how its influences are still felt today. Using interviews and footage, the documentary takes a deep look at one of music’s most influential figures.
At first, it seems like the film is going to be like any other documentary about a musician. There is talk of Morissette’s early life and burgeoning career in Canada. Just when it seems like Jagged is not going to explore any new ground, the singer talks of how her eating disorder that she still deals with began. It is the first of many vulnerable moments and and indicator of what is to come.
Morissette is a great interview. Honest and open, she is willing to talk about all aspects of her life without any hint of false modesty or regret. One of the most telling moments of Jagged is a discussion about the world tour for her breakthrough album. She had found her voice and knew what she was trying to convey. This includes a strong message about female empowerment. All the while, her all male band was trying to hook up with as many groupies as possible. Morissette talks about her anger after finding out and how she had to deal with a delicate situation.
This leads to a great segment about whether Morissette ever thought of having an all female backing band. As she does with the entire time, Morissette gives a blunt answer. Her reasoning is sound and will definitely surprise people. When Jagged Little Pill first came out, much of the talk surrounded how angry the singer was. When critics were not concerned about anger issues, they wondered who songs were about or the correct usage or song titles. Few talked about how there is only one song about revenge or the feelings the song conveyed.
Jagged points out that fans understood what Morissette was trying to say. The album crossed gender lines and influenced a generation of future stars. This is underscored by clips of Taylor Swift and Beyonce singing “Yout Outta Know”. More than anything else, the documentary is about a woman finding herself and one who is still misunderstood. Morissette speaks frankly about how when she turned fifteen, it was like every guy felt they had the go ahead to hit on her. She talks about consent and why women wait. While some will cling to the more salacious aspects of what she has to say, others will appreciate the emotion behind her words.
The Toronto International Film Festival takes place virtually and in person from September 9 – September 18
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