As the daughter of legendary actor Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda is legitimate Hollywood royalty who has had her own acclaimed career in front of the camera and on the stage. She is, however, so much more. In a life of constant reinvention, she is, among other things, a feminist, an activist, thrice a wife, and a mother. Fonda’s legacy to the world is complicated, particularly her oft-reviled visit to North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, but she has perhaps had more of an impact on American culture than any other actor through her topical examinations of pink-collar working women (9 to 5), the dangers of nuclear power (The China Syndrome), and the plight of war veterans (Coming Home), as well as her workout videos and book that almost single-handedly created the home video and fitness industries.
Now we have a comprehensive look at the evolution of this incredible woman in Susan Lacy’s new documentary, Jane Fonda in Five Acts. Lacy packs as much information about Fonda in as she can using archival footage, film and television clips, and talking-head interviews with such people as her ex-husband Tom Hayden, son Troy Garity, costars Lilly Tomlin and Sam Waterston, and producer Paula Weinstein—and, of course, Jane Fonda herself. Because Fonda has always been outspoken and in the limelight, Lacy doesn’t add much to what Fonda watchers already know about her. For those who are just discovering her, however, this documentary will help them understand her place in history and perhaps help them on their journey of self-discovery.