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TIFF 2021: JAGGED Review

By Marina Antunes [09.29.21]


In 1995, it was impossible to escape Alanis Morrisette. The singer/songwriter appeared to explode on the music scene, going from former pop near-icon to mega superstar seemingly overnight.


As she toppled records and took over music charts, two distinct groups emerged: those who appreciated the singer's raw, sometimes angry anthems that spoke both men and women (but largely women) and those who simply saw her as an angry young woman with no reason to be so pissed at the world.


In her new documentary Jagged, filmmaker Alison Klayman unpacks the legacy of both Morrisette and "Jagged Little Pill," an album that empowered an entire generation of young girls and women and which paved the way for other female artists to take center stage.



With unprecedented access to Morrisette herself, Klayman explores the artist's career before "Jagged" and the life experiences that fed the songs on the album. What emerges is nothing new: a system that used, abused and discarded, young talent, replacing it with the next shiny new thing.


Morrisette speaks candidly about her early experiences as a young artist trying to find her voice amid the pressures of the music machine and failing, only to persevere through sheer force of will - and a tiny bit of luck. The documentary then follows Morissette's success, unpacking what life was like on the road for a woman leading a band, headlining shows, and being tasked with being the boss. Klayman also takes the opportunity to explore the musical landscape in the mid-90s, a lonely place for female artists, particularly in the rock world.


Twenty-six (!) years since its release, "Jagged Little Pill" feels as essential today as it was when it came out; an album that fueled a generation of young women and empowered them to say what was on their minds. Morrisette wasn't the first but she did mark a moment in time, and alongside other pioneers like Janis Joplin, Joan Jett, Patti Smith, and a few others, she kicked open doors.


Jagged is a fairly straightforward documentary but one that well captures an artist and a period of time that was both a culmination of what came before it and a catalyst for the decade that followed.


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