Jane Fonda in Five Acts is a riveting profile of a woman desperately trying to find herself through her relationships with men. As promised, the new HBO doc (premiering September 24) is broken into five parts, the first four dedicated to the men — such as ex-husband Ted Turner — who shaped Fonda’s life. This is a portrait unafraid to show dark strokes, including the actress’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia, the suicide of her mother, and the backlash she faced when going behind enemy lines in North Vietnam.
Drawn from 21 hours of interviews with Fonda, her first-person accounts are honest and raw, with the 80-year-old icon often criticizing herself — skewering some of her past decisions with scrutiny and candor. Produced and directed by celebrated documentarian Susan Lacy (American Masters), Five Acts follows a linear timeline, which systematically illuminates why the princess of an acting dynasty took a surprising turn toward activism. It’s a tale that’s bound to resonate with anyone struggling in today’s social climate — and one all of us should note — as many causes Fonda championed molded her into a brazen organizer who stepped up while others did nothing.
Fonda’s life, we learn, has been fraught with tragedy and controversy, but the film’s final act is dedicated to the woman herself. She’s thriving in the latest chapter of her life, which — with her unhindered stance as an independent woman — is proving to be her most authentic and empowering yet.