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TIFF Review: ‘Jagged’ Spotlights One of Music’s Most Influential Artists and Her Battle Against the Patriarchy

November 18, 2021Ben MK

With blockbuster tracks like "Red," "Good 4 U" and "Bad Guy," Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish are just a few of today's new wave of empowered female singer-songwriters, who are conquering the music charts and redefining the music industry itself in the process. But back in the 1990s, being both a music artist and a woman wasn't quite as easy or trendsetting — especially if you had your own potentially controversial opinions to express and you didn't quite fit the carefully curated mold of what the major record labels envisioned.

Born in Ottawa, Canada in 1974, Alanis Nadine knows the struggle all too well. Better known as Alanis Morissette to her fans, the now 47-year-old gained critical and commercial notoriety with Jagged Little Pill, an album that now holds the distinct honor of being the 2nd-bestselling album of the '90s, as well as the 2nd-bestselling album by a female artist and the 12th-bestselling album of all time. The road to getting that album made, however, was one filled with its fair share of ups and downs. And as director Alison Klayman details in her fifth documentary feature, Jagged, it's a journey that helped transform the former child actor and teenage pop star into the woman she is today, having overcome everything from an eating disorder to sexual assault, not to mention the unfair judgment she received from male critics eager to dismiss her as just another angry young woman.

Featuring interviews with Alanis herself, fellow musicians like Shirley Manson of Garbage and Morissette's own former bandmates, as well as music industry insiders, journalists, and other notables like Kevin Smith, the result shines a light on one of the alternative music genre's most influential figures — and an album so big that it even got its own Broadway musical some two decades later. After all, Taylor, Olivia and Billie might not be where they are now were it not for Alanis' hard-won contributions. And while she may not have been the first female artist to take a stand against the patriarchy, she certainly won't be last.

Jagged screened under the Gala Presentations programme at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival and premieres November 18th on HBO Max and November 19th on Crave. Its runtime is 1 hr. 37 min.

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