Jane Wants a Boyfriend offers a sweet but slight look at the oft-misunderstood subject of navigating relationships with a person on the autism spectrum.
While twentysomething Jane (Louisa Krause) is, thankfully, not totally defined by Asperger’s syndrome — she’s a creative person who sews and loves classic Hollywood films — her older sister Bianca (Eliza Dushku) is fiercely overprotective, seeing Jane as helpless.
There are many fights, but while the two actresses emote convincingly, the sororal relationship is too easily resolved by the film’s end — plus, given the title, what viewer could doubt that Jane will get what she wants? Bianca’s friend Jack (Gabriel Ebert), a womanizing chef who wants to start being more mature, falls for Jane, charmed at first by her superficial Manic Pixie Dream Girl quirks.
To his credit, Jack’s not scared off by Jane’s Asperger’s, but a scene in which he talks to his boss about how he’s recently been making a lot of soups because he now appreciates that there are “no rules” induces eye-rolls. The film is most interesting when it goes into Jane’s head — we see her watching old movies, scrutinizing the stars and trying to pick up their cues. In one scene, attempting to flee a stressful situation, Jane is overstimulated in a train station. We see what she senses: flashing lights, everything ominous, loud and pulsating.
In this instance, the magnitude of Jane’s struggle can be felt. For the most part, though, Jane Wants a Boyfriend keeps the proceedings a bit too cute and would benefit from giving the protagonist more subjectivity.
Jane Wants a Boyfriend
Directed by William C. Sullivan
Opens March 25, Cinema Village
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 22, 2016