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Jumbo ★★★★★



Director: Zoé Wittock

Starring: Noémie Merlant, Emmanuelle Bercot and Bastien Bouillon

Released: Glasgow Film Festival 2021

In 2008 I read about Erika “Aya” Eiffel’s marriage to the Eiffel Tower and thought to myself, how is this possible? Can you genuinely fall in love with an intimate object? Erika received a lot of criticism and was laughed at by the vast majority of the world. Move forward to Zoé Wittock’s directorial debut Jumbo in 2021, as she sets to answer these questions but here we have a fairground ride.

The film follows painfully shy Jeanne (Noémie Merlant), who lives with her mother (Emmanuelle Bercot) and works at an amusement park. Out of the blue, she finds happiness with Jumbo – the park’s newest ride. Every touch of cold metal or oil oozing from this mighty inanimate object fuels her infatuation, convincing her that her feelings are reciprocated. Can Jeanne find love and understanding with her fairground attraction?

Quite frankly, Zoé Wittock’s film is absolutely touching. Jumbo is a tender journey of acceptance in our search to be loved. Wittock has delved deeper into the odd-facade of loving inanimate objects. It breathes a lot of life into believing in yourself and growing into your own skin. Jeanne is young and trying to understand who she is, and once she comes across Jumbo, these new emotions start to unravel. She is confused, but as the film goes along, she becomes comfortable within herself. Her home life isn’t exactly ideal for a young woman as her mother is pursuing love and has no time for Jeanne’s interests. The connection she has with Jumbo will be her salvation.

Jumbo is a journey of understanding and full of beautiful cinematography that has a sense of being. Wittock uses a lot of natural light as a symbol of this journey of discovery. There are many intimate close-ups to immerse the audiences within Jeanne’s mindset and emotions fully. Once she is with Jumbo, it becomes a flurry of neon lights and fast-paced movements. One scene in particular within a white room is utterly mesmerising, and this is the instance we see Jeanne and Jumbo become one. While it feels within a metaphorical stance, it honestly is very beautiful and handled well by Wittock. These intimate details are what connects you with Jeanne and understanding her emotional journey.

Noémie Merlant is tremendous at Jumbo’s helm. Her point-of-view of the world makes you understand her even more. There are moments where you want to cry with her and tell her everything will be OK. Merlant conveys her emotions with great organicity and humanity. An astounding and unforgettable performance from her.

This film handles this subject matter with great care and gives justice to the Erika “Aya” Eiffel’s of the world. Emotionally heavy, utterly unique and solidifies the message that love is love.

Lover of all things indie and foreign language. Can be found rambling on YouTube at times!

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