Who would have thought one of the most oddly romantic films of recent years would be based on the true encounter of a woman and her love for nuts and bolts?
In Jumbo, Zoé Wittock’s sublime Spielbergian love story, Jeanne finds herself drawn to the mechanical object of her desire, an enormous Tilt-A-Whirl ride. Played by one of France’s hottest exports, Noémie Merlant (Portrait of a Lady on Fire), she’s an attractive recluse of sorts, preferring to hibernate in an enclosed world with her overbearing single mum, who just wants her to have a “normal” sex life. Early on we get an inkling of her hidden needs when we catch her masturbating to various objects, in a bedroom cluttered with lights and miniature fairground rides. At night she works as a cleaner at the local amusement park. When a new attraction she nicknames Jumbo begins to weave a pneumatic spell, she becomes convinced it is alive and communicating with her.
Jeanne’s pushy mum thinks her boss Marc is a catch and in any other film of this ilk he would be the man with all the right moves. This isn’t that film. Not one for hiding her true desires, much of the film’s sincerity and awkward humour comes from Jeanne attempting to bridge the gap of understanding with those dearest to her. Gorgeously lensed throughout with smart production design to match, Jumbo features a rich soundscape and score that breathes life into both the living and inanimate, creating one of the more remarkable debut films in recent times. — Ant Timpson
About the Filmmaker
Zoé Wittock is a Belgian filmmaker currently based in Paris. Her debut feature film Jumbo, which explores objectum-sexuality, was developed from the true story of Erika Labrie, an Olympic gold medal winner in archery, who got married to the Eiffel Tower in 2004.