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Jumbo review


If you created a venn diagram of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’, John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’, you might find Zoé Wittock’s whimsical romantic drama ‘Jumbo’ in the middle of it. Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who got married to the Eiffel Tower, the film sets out to explore the relatively unknown condition of objectum sexuality – the romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to an inanimate object.


Noémie Merlant, best known for her stunning turn in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ stars as Jeanne, a socially awkward young woman who still lives with her overbearing mother Margerette (Emmanuelle Bercot). Her mum wants her to meet a man and move out, but Jeanne prefers to stay in her room and focus on her hobby of making miniature models of theme park rides.


She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at an amusement park she used to visit as a child. It is during these long, lonely nights that she becomes fascinated with the new tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo. Her infatuation with the ride develops into a deep emotional bond, which the film playfully suggests is reciprocal with its anthropomorphised vision of Jumbo.


This could easily be played for cheap laughs, but Wittock films the hulking machine with a real tenderness and tactility. As Jeanne gently caresses its smooth surfaces and LED lights, Jumbo responds with growling mechanical moans, which come through the speakers with a low, rumbling bass, which adds to the strange sensuality of these early scenes when they are alone. This kind of twinkly dreaminess is then stripped away when other people are around, and the ride goes back to just being a cold, hard machine.


There’s a real visual vibrancy to the film, and some startling moments of surrealism, including arguably the year’s most unique (and oily) sex scene, evoking the alien void from ‘Under the Skin’. Merlant goes above and beyond in her terrific and uninhibited performance, bringing a heartbreaking level of empathy to Jeanne. You can’t help but root for her, even though we know hardly anything about her. Which is unfortunately where the film falls down.


Despite giving everything she has to Jeanne, Merlant is let down by some broad stroke characterisation, which—whilst still sensitive and sympathetic—leaves too many blanks to fill in. The supporting cast are also drawn in very simplistic shades. I’m not advocating that everything needs spelling out in a story such as this, but some sort of vague notion of their inner lives, or a suggestion of what has brought them to this point would have been welcome.


Even being kind about it, the final act is a bit of a mess, but there’s enough good in this film to make it worth your while. For all its offbeat trappings, ‘Jumbo’ still has some important things to say about acceptance, finding love where you can, and having the freedom to choose how to live your own life. Writer-director Zoé Wittock is definitely one to watch.


If you created a venn diagram of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’, John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’, you might find Zoé Wittock’s whimsical romantic drama ‘Jumbo’ in the middle of it. Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who got married to the Eiffel Tower, the film sets out to explore the relatively unknown condition of objectum sexuality – the romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to an inanimate object.


Noémie Merlant, best known for her stunning turn in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ stars as Jeanne, a socially awkward young woman who still lives with her overbearing mother Margerette (Emmanuelle Bercot). Her mum wants her to meet a man and move out, but Jeanne prefers to stay in her room and focus on her hobby of making miniature models of theme park rides.


She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at an amusement park she used to visit as a child. It is during these long, lonely nights that she becomes fascinated with the new tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo. Her infatuation with the ride develops into a deep emotional bond, which the film playfully suggests is reciprocal with its anthropomorphised vision of Jumbo.


This could easily be played for cheap laughs, but Wittock films the hulking machine with a real tenderness and tactility. As Jeanne gently caresses its smooth surfaces and LED lights, Jumbo responds with growling mechanical moans, which come through the speakers with a low, rumbling bass, which adds to the strange sensuality of these early scenes when they are alone. This kind of twinkly dreaminess is then stripped away when other people are around, and the ride goes back to just being a cold, hard machine.


There’s a real visual vibrancy to the film, and some startling moments of surrealism, including arguably the year’s most unique (and oily) sex scene, evoking the alien void from ‘Under the Skin’. Merlant goes above and beyond in her terrific and uninhibited performance, bringing a heartbreaking level of empathy to Jeanne. You can’t help but root for her, even though we know hardly anything about her. Which is unfortunately where the film falls down.


Despite giving everything she has to Jeanne, Merlant is let down by some broad stroke characterisation, which—whilst still sensitive and sympathetic—leaves too many blanks to fill in. The supporting cast are also drawn in very simplistic shades. I’m not advocating that everything needs spelling out in a story such as this, but some sort of vague notion of their inner lives, or a suggestion of what has brought them to this point would have been welcome.


Even being kind about it, the final act is a bit of a mess, but there’s enough good in this film to make it worth your while. For all its offbeat trappings, ‘Jumbo’ still has some important things to say about acceptance, finding love where you can, and having the freedom to choose how to live your own life. Writer-director Zoé Wittock is definitely one to watch.If you created a venn diagram of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’, John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’, you might find Zoé Wittock’s whimsical romantic drama ‘Jumbo’ in the middle of it. Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who got married to the Eiffel Tower, the film sets out to explore the relatively unknown condition of objectum sexuality – the romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to an inanimate object.


Noémie Merlant, best known for her stunning turn in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ stars as Jeanne, a socially awkward young woman who still lives with her overbearing mother Margerette (Emmanuelle Bercot). Her mum wants her to meet a man and move out, but Jeanne prefers to stay in her room and focus on her hobby of making miniature models of theme park rides.


She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at an amusement park she used to visit as a child. It is during these long, lonely nights that she becomes fascinated with the new tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo. Her infatuation with the ride develops into a deep emotional bond, which the film playfully suggests is reciprocal with its anthropomorphised vision of Jumbo.


This could easily be played for cheap laughs, but Wittock films the hulking machine with a real tenderness and tactility. As Jeanne gently caresses its smooth surfaces and LED lights, Jumbo responds with growling mechanical moans, which come through the speakers with a low, rumbling bass, which adds to the strange sensuality of these early scenes when they are alone. This kind of twinkly dreaminess is then stripped away when other people are around, and the ride goes back to just being a cold, hard machine.


There’s a real visual vibrancy to the film, and some startling moments of surrealism, including arguably the year’s most unique (and oily) sex scene, evoking the alien void from ‘Under the Skin’. Merlant goes above and beyond in her terrific and uninhibited performance, bringing a heartbreaking level of empathy to Jeanne. You can’t help but root for her, even though we know hardly anything about her. Which is unfortunately where the film falls down.


Despite giving everything she has to Jeanne, Merlant is let down by some broad stroke characterisation, which—whilst still sensitive and sympathetic—leaves too many blanks to fill in. The supporting cast are also drawn in very simplistic shades. I’m not advocating that everything needs spelling out in a story such as this, but some sort of vague notion of their inner lives, or a suggestion of what has brought them to this point would have been welcome.


Even being kind about it, the final act is a bit of a mess, but there’s enough good in this film to make it worth your while. For all its offbeat trappings, ‘Jumbo’ still has some important things to say about acceptance, finding love where you can, and having the freedom to choose how to live your own life. Writer-director Zoé Wittock is definitely one to watch.If you created a venn diagram of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’, John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’, you might find Zoé Wittock’s whimsical romantic drama ‘Jumbo’ in the middle of it. Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who got married to the Eiffel Tower, the film sets out to explore the relatively unknown condition of objectum sexuality – the romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to an inanimate object.


Noémie Merlant, best known for her stunning turn in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ stars as Jeanne, a socially awkward young woman who still lives with her overbearing mother Margerette (Emmanuelle Bercot). Her mum wants her to meet a man and move out, but Jeanne prefers to stay in her room and focus on her hobby of making miniature models of theme park rides.


She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at an amusement park she used to visit as a child. It is during these long, lonely nights that she becomes fascinated with the new tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo. Her infatuation with the ride develops into a deep emotional bond, which the film playfully suggests is reciprocal with its anthropomorphised vision of Jumbo.


This could easily be played for cheap laughs, but Wittock films the hulking machine with a real tenderness and tactility. As Jeanne gently caresses its smooth surfaces and LED lights, Jumbo responds with growling mechanical moans, which come through the speakers with a low, rumbling bass, which adds to the strange sensuality of these early scenes when they are alone. This kind of twinkly dreaminess is then stripped away when other people are around, and the ride goes back to just being a cold, hard machine.


There’s a real visual vibrancy to the film, and some startling moments of surrealism, including arguably the year’s most unique (and oily) sex scene, evoking the alien void from ‘Under the Skin’. Merlant goes above and beyond in her terrific and uninhibited performance, bringing a heartbreaking level of empathy to Jeanne. You can’t help but root for her, even though we know hardly anything about her. Which is unfortunately where the film falls down.


Despite giving everything she has to Jeanne, Merlant is let down by some broad stroke characterisation, which—whilst still sensitive and sympathetic—leaves too many blanks to fill in. The supporting cast are also drawn in very simplistic shades. I’m not advocating that everything needs spelling out in a story such as this, but some sort of vague notion of their inner lives, or a suggestion of what has brought them to this point would have been welcome.


Even being kind about it, the final act is a bit of a mess, but there’s enough good in this film to make it worth your while. For all its offbeat trappings, ‘Jumbo’ still has some important things to say about acceptance, finding love where you can, and having the freedom to choose how to live your own life. Writer-director Zoé Wittock is definitely one to watch.


If you created a venn diagram of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s ‘Amélie’, John Carpenter’s ‘Christine’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Crash’, you might find Zoé Wittock’s whimsical romantic drama ‘Jumbo’ in the middle of it. Inspired by the incredible true story of a woman who got married to the Eiffel Tower, the film sets out to explore the relatively unknown condition of objectum sexuality – the romantic, emotional, or sexual attraction to an inanimate object.


Noémie Merlant, best known for her stunning turn in ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire’ stars as Jeanne, a socially awkward young woman who still lives with her overbearing mother Margerette (Emmanuelle Bercot). Her mum wants her to meet a man and move out, but Jeanne prefers to stay in her room and focus on her hobby of making miniature models of theme park rides.


She takes a job as a night shift cleaner at an amusement park she used to visit as a child. It is during these long, lonely nights that she becomes fascinated with the new tilt-a-whirl ride, which she nicknames Jumbo. Her infatuation with the ride develops into a deep emotional bond, which the film playfully suggests is reciprocal with its anthropomorphised vision of Jumbo.


This could easily be played for cheap laughs, but Wittock films the hulking machine with a real tenderness and tactility. As Jeanne gently caresses its smooth surfaces and LED lights, Jumbo responds with growling mechanical moans, which come through the speakers with a low, rumbling bass, which adds to the strange sensuality of these early scenes when they are alone. This kind of twinkly dreaminess is then stripped away when other people are around, and the ride goes back to just being a cold, hard machine.


There’s a real visual vibrancy to the film, and some startling moments of surrealism, including arguably the year’s most unique (and oily) sex scene, evoking the alien void from ‘Under the Skin’. Merlant goes above and beyond in her terrific and uninhibited performance, bringing a heartbreaking level of empathy to Jeanne. You can’t help but root for her, even though we know hardly anything about her. Which is unfortunately where the film falls down.


Despite giving everything she has to Jeanne, Merlant is let down by some broad stroke characterisation, which—whilst still sensitive and sympathetic—leaves too many blanks to fill in. The supporting cast are also drawn in very simplistic shades. I’m not advocating that everything needs spelling out in a story such as this, but some sort of vague notion of their inner lives, or a suggestion of what has brought them to this point would have been welcome.


Even being kind about it, the final act is a bit of a mess, but there’s enough good in this film to make it worth your while. For all its offbeat trappings, ‘Jumbo’ still has some important things to say about acceptance, finding love where you can, and having the freedom to choose how to live your own life. Writer-director Zoé Wittock is definitely one to watch.


★★★

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