As a music documentary, I think it is already obvious if one will find enjoyment in this new feature on iconic songwriter, Alanis Morissette. Like all of the best docs, we chart Morissette’s comprehensive rise from a faux-pop singer to an influential girl-power songwriter. The documentary gives one a glimpse into the headspace of the creator herself as Morissette provides insightful views on several of her projects. Highs, lows, and incredible milestones—it is all here in Music Box: Jagged.
Hailing from Ottawa, Canada, Alanis started singing in a significant way at the tender age of twelve. Her rise to stardom began its steady climb when she auditioned for You Can’t Do That on Television. Cute vintage footage is displayed here—Alanis getting slimed was a definite highlight! At only fifteen years old, Alanis was already recording her first music video for “Too Hot.” I was honestly very surprised to learn more about this stage of her career pre-Jagged Little Pill. Morissette even talks about her time spent in Germany when she was younger, maintaining that her style was heavily influenced by these three years in Europe.
Following Alanis on a journey through major milestones and hearing her commentary along the way is what aids in making Music Box: Jagged feel special. Huge songs, especially “Ironic,” are given a satisfying amount of focus. Dogma was “the greatest script,” Alanis reminisces of Kevin Smith’s beloved 1999 religious comedy. She has obviously talked about her career before, but never in this way. Essentially, it acts as an intimate portrait of the woman behind the curtain. Containing this much talent is a marvel in itself, but the fact that she is so humble and thankful in regards to her fame endears her even further. Alanis is a knockout talent, covered by everyone from Taylor Swift to Beyoncé!
Music video clippings that play throughout are accompanied by on-screen lyrics in a stylish and cute way that leaves a lasting impression. I was left with song lyrics flashing through my head—a tribute to the power of Morissette’s music. She has a way of conveying emotion that is purely her style and impossible to replicate. I had never even thought of “You Oughta Know” as one of the first “fuck you” songs around until hearing it explored in this documentary.
Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill album remains the second highest-selling female album of all time. To this day, it is also still one of my most-played albums on regular rotation. Silly critics that would label her as just an angry woman have to be eating their words by now, as the artist’s decades-long career speaks for itself. The raw power and vulnerability in Alanis’s vocals reigns supreme, and has been imitated countless times. I only hope that one day I can eventually experience the brilliance of her aura in person. For now, Music Box: Jagged is a close as I am going to get.
Music Box: Jagged screened at Toronto International Film Festival, and debuts later this year on HBO Max.