Jupiter's Moon screens tonight at 9:45p at Plaza Frontenac, and Monday, 11/5 at 9:00p at Plaza Frontenac. Get tickets here.
Quick Hit: Social commentary mixed up with a Syrian superhero leads to a mixed bag.
One of my favorite things about SLIFF each year is that it brings me films from around the world that otherwise would never have made it into my orbit. This is due to the smaller nature of the site as it currently exists, and our inability to budget travels to larger film festivals like NYFF, TIFF, or Cannes. Jupiter’s Moon is one of those films that screened at Cannes – and now has made it to our neck of the woods. I jumped at the chance to watch it because director Kornél Mundruczó previously gave us the film White God, which led us down the road of a canine apocalypse, and it was a fascinating movie.
Jupiter’s Moon is no less fascinating, if a bit more stereotypical throughout. The film follows Aryan (Zsombor Jéger), a Syrian refugee who attempts to cross the Syrian border. His crossing, which is being attempted with his father, does not go so well, and Aryan ends up shot by László (György Cserhalmi), who seems either to be an internment camp director or a detective. This brings him across disgraced Doctor Stern’s (Merab Ninidze) table, where it is discovered that Aryan has developed the power to levitate. Being the disgraced doctor that he is (for reasons discovered later in the story), he decides to use Aryan’s vulnerability in order to make the money needed for him to crawl out of his disgrace.
Make no mistake – this superhero origin is as much about redemption and forgiveness of self as it is about refugee fears and superpowers. The complex themes weave throughout the film in a way that is extremely complex, and at times, the film suffers from the feeling of being far overstuffed with these heavy ideas. With so many things to say, Mundruczó ends up losing the ability to keep your focus on all the things that matter.
However, the filming technique is wonderful in this film. There are a variety of visually intoxicating scenes, from rotating trailers to Aryan floating above the wreckage of a terrorist attack. Along with seeming immediately Christ-like in these images, it also allows a distance to form between us and the events below, which gives a surreal-like quality to whenever Aryan’s powers are deployed. And if this happened in real life, wouldn’t it seem surreal to suddenly see someone float? I read in some research that many of these scenes were accomplished using drones, but that doesn’t quite do justice to the effects, which often times are flawless. Kudos to the team in charge of cinematography.
The acting at times leaves something to be desired. I feel like Aryan’s character was a bit one-note, and so I can’t necessarily lay all the blame at Jéger’s feet. But despite the fact that Stern is a bit of a cliché character (I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve watched “alcoholic doctor needs to get past it” in the last few years), I think that Ninidze does a great job at bringing his character some much needed attention and warmth. This creates a nearly father/son relationship between Aryan and Stern that fills in some of the emotional connections throughout the film.
Overall, I thought that Jupiter’s Moon was slightly above average, but had some issues that it needed to iron out. Trimming the fat off this over two hour movie would do wonders. I’m giving it a “C+”.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"