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Jumbo (AFI Fest 2020); Grade: B

Strictly Films welcomes to you to coverage of this years AFI Film Festival! Our next film on the block: Jumbo.

Jumbo tells a story about an amusement park employee named Jeanne (Noemie Merlant), whom loves the amusement park and even makes little nice arts and crafts of the attractions in her room. Jeanne perhaps is different, as her interest in getting into a relationship is extremely low. One night Jeanne gets acquainted with a ride attraction of the park, as she names the ride Jumbo. Jeanne will soon learn that she has emotional feelings towards Jumbo, as she wants to love Jumbo throughly and make love with Jumbo.

Jumbo is visually stunning, lovely work as far as usage of color pallet goes, there is some rather weird yet fascinating shots towards Jeanne’s sexual fantasies with this amusement ride. Followed by a solid Score that works well for this kind of film. The cast all in all was solid as a whole, as they fit the weird nature of this story. Led by Noemie Merlant whom plays a rather solid performance as Jeanne, whom happens to be a misfit amongst others. In ways some can relate to Jeanne as being extremely different and more so shy, as acceptance from others for whom she is often rare, but also being uncomfortable in her world as well. With her attraction towards an amusement ride may seem rather abnormal, it’s worth noting that she is still a human being at the end of the day with feelings. Also worth noting she’s not doing anything wrong nor is far from being an extremely rude person, so honestly who really cares if she wants to make-out with an amusement ride?!

Jumbo compares to the likes of Christine and even Transformers: Human beings whom have feelings towards non living objects. I think it leans towards more on Christine in comparison, as the human being in that film was rather obsessed with his car, but didn’t have sexual desires with it. Jumbo is an extremely weird tale, but does excel in providing a sweet hearted message of acceptance, as well as being true to yourself. Watching this girl being attracted to a ride was rather odd, however it was kind of adorable just how she felt completely alive and free while having conversations with this ride, as she admires it’s beauty by the way it operates. You can say that Jumbo made Jeanne more alive than she ever was, but in a way I can see the level of excitement others have for amusement ride attractions, just not on the level Jeanne is on most definitely.

As Jeanne tries to fit in and has some relations with her attraction manager, she felt more violated than normal, as her attempt in wanting to be accepted by others didn’t work out so well. It’s always best to do whatever you feel is necessary towards your own happiness, than worrying about what others think, as the film does a nice job. Regarding acceptance by others, it’s worth noting a strong scene in the third act, as while Jeanne is being told she should be in an institute for being the way she is, one steps up and says what needed to be said. If their oddly aroused by this amusement park attraction, then so be it who cares. If it generates happiness towards Jeanne’s way and doesn’t create misery, then we should be able to accept Jeanne for whom she is as she’s not bothering anyone. If you can get behind the absurd weird nature of this film, the film can be somewhat adorable and sweet.

Overall, Jumbo is solid film. I recommend checking this one out, but be warned it’s not for everyone. -Mitch Smietana

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