Having read Jane Fonda’s insightful personal 2005 memoir, “My Life So Far,” I knew of her five so-called acts that were primarily defined by the men in her life – both her distant famous father, Henry, and her three ex-husbands, French director Roger Vadim, political activist Tom Hayden and media mogul Ted Turner. But pictures often speak louder than words, and filmmaker Susan Lacy does a masterful job of summing up this amazing female icon – who somehow reflects the good and bad of all the eras she has lived in – with her documentary, Jane Fonda in Five Acts.
Whether it was the repressive ‘50s, the free-love ‘60s, the politically-charged ‘70s, the feel-the-burn ‘80s, the working-girl ‘90s and the sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves dawning of a new century, Fonda uniquely mirrored how American womanhood has evolved. That includes whatever the in-vogue hairdo was at the time.
At 80, this remarkable and admittedly flawed lady remains as relevant and frank as ever as she continues to find ways to renew her commitment to living life to its fullest. And, as someone who recalls being left awestruck by her performance in 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? as an impressionable junior-high girl, I am beyond pleased Fonda is still an inspiring presence, especially as an actress. Yes, she does silly stuff like Book Club, which admittedly made me ugly laugh at times. But if you haven’t seen it, find Netflix’s Our Souls at Night, her reunion with Robert Redford a half-century or so after Barefoot in the Park. It is the perfect chaser to this beautiful HBO-produced tribute. May we all define our last acts this well.