Festivals - Fantasia 2020 : Jumbo

By Mulder, 10 august 2020

Performed by Noémie Merlant (Portrait of the Girl on Fire), Jeanne is shy and socially unfit. She works at night in an amusement park. It is at night that Jeanne is truly happy, since her life at home is difficult: her mother (Emmanuelle Bercot, Mon Roi), a great extrovert and probably a little too attentive, never stops observing and analyzing her daughter's behaviour. Jeanne would like to find a boyfriend, just to put an end to the endless questions. One night on her way to work as usual, she discovers a new ride that has just been delivered and installed. It is an imposing structure, covered with multicoloured light bulbs, and called Jumbo. For Jeanne, it's love at first sight. Her heart is beating like crazy. She is speechless with admiration. To her astonishment, and in a single transcendent second, her very conception of life is forever changed. Jeanne is in love. Deeply, irremediably in love.

A wonderfully weird romance and an initiatory "coming out" story like no other film has ever seen before, Jumbo took off this year in competition at Sundance - and since then, the festival circuit hasn't been the same! It's a dazzling debut feature for writer/director Zoe Wittock. Before writing the screenplay, she studied the lives of several "objectophiles" (that is, people who are sexually attracted to inanimate objects), including Ericka Eiffel, the American who married the Eiffel Tower. Most filmmakers would never dare to tackle such a subject, yet Wittock succeeds brilliantly, injecting all the necessary tenderness and humanity into his story. Noémie Merlant's choice of Jeanne as Jeanne is both inspired and judicious. Indeed, it is she who catapults this film into the emotional stratosphere. Jumbo asks several very important questions about sexual identity, with humour, with heart, and with impressive visual flair. An instant classic of eccentric, splendid, touching and inspiring cinema.

Jeanne, a shy young woman, works as a night watchman in an amusement park. She is in a fusional relationship with her mother, the extroverted Margarette. While no man can find his place in the duo that everything opposes, Jeanne develops strange feelings towards Jumbo, the park's flagship attraction.

Written and directed by Zoé Wittock
Produced by Anaïs Bertrand
Starring Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot, Bastien Bouillon, Sam Louwyck
Music by Thomas Roussel
Cinematography : Thomas Buelens
Edited by : Thomas Fernandez
Production company : Insolence Productions, Les Films Fauves et Kwassa Films
Distrbuted by Rezo Films (France)
Release date : 24 janvier 2020 (Sundance), 1 juillet 2020 (France)
Running time : 93mns

(Source : Fantasia 2020 official website)