TORONTO — Alanis Morissette has dramatically washed her hands of “Jagged,” the new documentary about her life that premiered Tuesday at the Toronto International Film Festival.
“I agreed to participate in a piece about the celebration of ‘Jagged Little Pill’’s 25th anniversary, and was interviewed during a very vulnerable time (while in the midst of my third postpartum depression during lockdown),” the Canadian singer said hours before the debut screening at TIFF.
“I was lulled into a false sense of security and their salacious agenda became apparent immediately upon my seeing the first cut of the film. This is when I knew our visions were in fact painfully diverged. This was not the story I agreed to tell.”
Morissette, who did not attend the premiere at the Princess of Wales Theatre, went on to say, “I ultimately won’t be supporting someone else’s reductive take on a story much too nuanced for them to ever grasp or tell.”
What’s odd, however, is that the segments the “You Oughta Know” performer most likely takes objection to — a mere few minutes of the documentary — are ones told in her own words about being sexually taken advantage of by unnamed figures in the music industry when she was a teenager. The film is otherwise celebratory and innocuous.
“On one level, I thought this is dream come true stuff,” Morissette, 47, says in the film of her burgeoning fame. “This is [the] catalyst, beginning of the life of my dreams. And on another hand it was, like, where is my protection? Where is everybody?”
Morissette recalls her painful memories in “Jagged” that everything changed for the worse when she was 15, several years before she released her seminal album “Jagged Little Pill.”
“Something about me being 15 — that’s when I really started to be hit on,” she says. “Twelve, they were a little scared. Thirteen they were a little scared, but they’d still, you know. Fourteen less scary, but still scary. Fifteen, all bets were off. Somehow that seemed like a safer number for people.”
At the time, the age of consent in Canada was 14. However, the singer suggests that the offenders were older men she had professional associations with, and therefore, were in a position of power over her.
“I just thought was my fault, because almost every single person that I would work with, there would be some turning point where the camera would go Dutch angle,” she says, referring to a camera technique that makes viewers uneasy. “And I would just wait for it.
“It would either end the relationship, or there would be some big secret that we’d keep forever.”
As the doc, directed by Alison Klayman, delves deeper into her #MeToo stories, Morissette tells the director, “I’m gonna need some help, because I never talk about this s – – t.
“There was a lot of shame around having any victimization of any kind,” she goes on to say. “And it took me years in therapy for me to admit that there had been any kind of victimization on my part. I would always say, ‘I was consenting,’ and then I’d be reminded ‘Hey, you were 15. You’re not consenting at 15.’ “
But today the recording artist has a clear-eyed view of what happened back then: “Now I’m, like, they’re all pedophiles. All statutory rape.
“Me not telling specific information about my experience as a teenager was almost solely around wanting to protect. Protect my parents, protect my brothers, protect future partners, protect myself, protect my physical safety.”
Morissette didn’t condemn the whole of the documentary, however, which also includes her early life, the segue into alternative rock, her instant chart success and the formation of her band.
“There is beauty and some elements of accuracy in this/my story to be sure,” she said.
Klayman told Deadline, “It’s a really hard thing, I think, to see a movie made about yourself.
“I think she’s incredibly brave and the reaction when she saw it was that it was a really –she could feel all the work, all the nuance that went into it. And again, she gave so much of her time and so much of her effort into making this, and I think that the movie really speaks for itself.”
“Jagged” will air on HBO Nov. 19.