WMass on display in new movie trailer for Annie Baker’s ‘Janet Planet’

The History of Women Mural in Northampton as seen in the trailer for the coming movie “Janet Planet.”

The History of Women Mural in Northampton as seen in the trailer for the coming movie “Janet Planet.” SCREENSHOT

Mount Pollux in Amherst as seen in the trailer for the coming movie “Janet Planet.”

Mount Pollux in Amherst as seen in the trailer for the coming movie “Janet Planet.” SCREEN SHOT

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 04-11-2024 6:30 PM

AMHERST — Mount Pollux in Amherst and The History of Women Mural in Northampton are among area locations visible in a trailer released for “Janet Planet,” the feature film directorial debut by playwright Annie Baker that is expected to hit theaters on June 21.

Baker, a 1999 Amherst Regional High School graduate who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2014 for her play “The Flick,” spent the summer of 2022 doing location work in Amherst, Northampton and Hadley, with cast and crew staying at a home in Leverett. Other filming locations were in Easthampton, Williamsburg, Chesterfield, Cummington, Ashfield and Springfield, according to the Massachusetts Film Office.

The movie stars Julianne Nicholson as the mother and Zoe Ziegler as the daughter, with others in the cast including Sophie Okonedo, Will Patton and Elias Koteas.

The most prominent landmarks that can be seen in the trailer show Nicholson walking to and resting at Mount Pollux, the glacial drumlin off South East Street in South Amherst, and Okonedo sitting in a vehicle parked in front of the mural in Northampton, off Masonic Street.

During the film shoot, permission was received from several local boards and commissions, with crews set up in the parking lot and the inside of the Hampshire Mall in Hadley and a Hadley ice cream stand.

The A24 film website provides a plot description: “In rural Western Massachusetts, 11-year-old Lacy spends the summer of 1991 at home, enthralled by her own imagination and the attention of her mother, Janet. As the months pass, three visitors enter their orbit, all captivated by Janet and her spellbinding nature. In her solitary moments, Lacy inhabits an inner world so extraordinarily detailed that it begins to seep into the outside world.” Following its premiere at the 61st annual New York City Film Festival last fall, critics gave positive reviews.

In a review for Collider, Chase Hutchinson writes, “As you take in the film, it is almost like you are floating through time with the gravity of its central subject pulling you in closer. Everything moves gently but confidently, capturing the delicate textures of a mother-daughter relationship that comes to vibrant life before you.”

With the trailer now available, Jason B. Frank, writing for Vulture, points to the utterance from the 11-year-old saying in the trailer, “You know what’s funny to me, every moment in my life is hell.”

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“The two-minute edit operates as a kind of heartbreaking tone-poem about a mom who floats on air and her precocious child,” Frank writes.

Frank also encourages moviegoers to “mark at least one day off on your calendar this summer when you can plan to smile wistfully and shed a single tear.”