Fantasia Festival 2020: Jumbo (2020)

Jumbo (2020)


Director (and writer): Zoé Wittock

Cast: Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck, Tracy Dossou

Jeanne, a shy young woman, works in an amusement park. Fascinated with carousels, she still lives at home with her mother. That’s when Jeanne meets Jumbo, the park’s new flagship attraction. – IMDB

Jumbo is the directorial debut of Zoé Wittock which at the beginning says that its inspired by a true story. After the world has been in the stand for LGBT community, there’s always somewhere else to explore in terms of sexuality and attraction and in this case, its a look at object sexuality or objectophilia which is the journey that the main character Jeanne finds herself with as the new amusement park ride Move-It that she is recently employed as to do clean-up after hours starts to form a connection with her. Is it a real or in her imagination is the whole deal as the rock of her world being her mother starts to negate her attraction with Jumbo, the name that she’s given Move-It. Its a journey about acceptance of being different, finding yourself as well as family seeing a way to accept, support even if they don’t understand what seems strange to them as it breaks away from the norm. That’s where the movie strikes at its best. Its weird for sure especially with scenes of a different form of sex and the infatuation but if you think about it, its not really that different from how everyone else feels in the face of falling in love. Its just the subject is different. Suffice to say, the premise itself is an engaging and unique one.

One of the place that this shines is the characters and relationships. The movie starts off with this endearing relationship with Jeanne and her mom Margarette who are almost like friends. She tells her mom everything and is obviously a lot more introvert in comparison to her mother who talks about her vibrator right in the first 5 minutes of the movie. Jeanne is a character that enjoys being alone whether its because of bullies or just her lack of communication skills with others or that people find her a little odd whereas her mother is the opposite as she finds a man called Hubert fairly quickly and comes into the picture. Its a unique relationship between the mother and daughter that takes a front seat the entire movie as it all takes a turn for the bad before any kind of resolution. Its one of the relationship that becomes very intense to watch.

Above this relationship, its really the journey for Jeanne and Jumbo. Its an inner journey for Jeanne as an individual as while everyone might disagree, she’s also struggling to make sense of it and its portrayed so well by Noemie Merlant who embodies this character so well. The introvert and shy personality, the happiness, attraction and interaction with Jumbo, the struggle to try to be normal with a man and everything else that goes with it. Her relationship with Jumbo might not be one of words and its a one-sided conversation a lot of times but the way the film is executed gives it life as Jumbo lights up in different colors to answer her questions and responds with sounds and whatnot that reflects their emotions. There’s some parts where it feels like its her imagination but it starts making you wonder whether its reality as well.

Jumbo is no doubt a unique film and one that will be very memorable because its premise stands out so well. There’s a lot to talk about with Jumbo. The cinematography, the sounds, the characters and relationships, the portrayal of objectophilia: its all worth discussing. Its probably not for everyone since its a daring and intense take on objectophilia. It doesn’t shy away from making sure that the audience understands how deeply in love Jeanne is towards Jumbo whether its through her actions, words or expressions. One of the supporting characters makes a really good point at the end and that it doesn’t matter what she likes if she’s as happy as she was even if its a little bizarre. Its a great takeaway in general for people struggling to be accepted for being different from what is believed as “normal” but then, as I’m watching and writing this review, we’re living in abnormal times which probably will be our norm in coming years so what is really normal, right?