A young woman working at a carnival develops an unusual interest in one of the rids as she has a passion for these types of structures, giving them a personality of their own and getting more into them than the next person. As she gets very involved in caring for this right, her mother and her boss come in the way of her work and her dreams.
Written and directed by Zoé Wittock, Jumbo takes a fascination and turns into something unusual for most viewers as objectum-sexuality is a lesser known form of attraction that has definitely not been explored all that much in film, and when it has, it’s been treated as an anomalie. Here, the viewer is free to make us their own mind on this as they go through the story with Jeanne, the lead, and see this through her eyes and through her life. There is something to be said for the originality of the story and how it connects this with other forms of love and attraction. The way the film treats this is how most film about otherness treat their subject when done with care and a lot of respect to the subject. This film is not created or made to derise objectum-sexuality, but it is made to show it as yet another way some people find love and sexual satisfaction.
Casting for this film is something that was of utmost importance as the wrong lead could have turned it into something else entirely just by giving the wrong nuances to the part. In the part of Jeanne, the lead and a part that required the right amount of nuance and tact, is Noémie Merlant who does fantastic work in giving Jeanne a personality and a vulnerability that works for the part, but also for the film to function as it does. Her work has a lot of nuance and she shows that she’s willing to go with the flow of a film and make it her own at the same time. There is something in her performance that gives the film its own power while watching it. This is her film and she knows is, yet she shows the kind of restraint that much more experienced actors would not have the logic to apply to stories like this one. Playing her mother, a woman who goes through a lot of the usual beats when her kid lets her know of her unexpected attraction/sexuality, is Emmanuelle Bercot who gives her character the just amount of emotions to truly show how things can affect an unexpecting yet loving mother. Her evolution through the film and its turns shows a great grasp on acting and on what may be expected of a mother in a situation like here. She also gives her character that reaction that is believable, yet frustrating when her kid comes to her with her truth, her true self. The characters here are fairly low in number even though there are other people around them, but it helps make the film one that is more intimate, more personal among the unusual settings and ideas.
Everything here happens in a very calculated, yet organic way, which also includes the images brought the screen. The cinematography work of Thomas Buelens shows the attraction ride and the attraction to it in a way that is superb at times, with perfect lighting, angles, framing, the whole nine to make it look incredibly attractive and sexy even, if that is something that can be achieved. The work he puts on the screen here is something that is beautiful and fun to watched. The film becomes a neon painting at times that is just stunning to look at, giving the story something extra to make it feel even deeper and pull the viewer deeper into its developments.
Jumbo is a film that grabs the viewer with great, beautiful visuals and strong performances from the leads and makes the most of an unusual situation and attraction. For those who will be tempted to judge it before watching due to the nature of this attraction, it may be best to skip it. For those willing to enter the film the with an open mind and to see it perhaps as a metaphor for otherness, it’s a fantastic entry in the romantic drama subgenre.