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Jeanne (Noémie Merlant, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE), a shy young woman, lives at home with her uninhibited bartender mother and works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park. Her mother wants her to meet a man, but Jeanne prefers tinkering in her bedroom with wires, light bulbs and spare parts, creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shifts she begins spending intimate time with the alluring new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call Jumbo. Finding herself seduced by “his” red lights, smooth chrome and oily hydraulics, Jeanne concludes that the thrilling new relationship she wants to pursue is with Jumbo.
Writer-director Zoé Wittock brings gleeful energy, buoyant humor and surrealistic style to an unusual type of love story — one between woman and machine — in her debut feature. Taking the perspective of Jeanne, who is played with focus and emotion by Merlant, allows us to enter her world of self-discovery and exhilaration for her literal object of desire, while her devoted mother struggles to understand and accept her unconventional choices. (Synopsis from the Sundance Institute)
“The visual language of JUMBO is sensual, making evocative (and surprisingly erotic) use of luminous colored light and gushing water to evoke the film’s core commingling of natural and artificial. Merlant’s performance is similarly thoughtful, making a real character out of one that could have been little more than a collection of quirks.”––Katie Rife, A.V. Club “From its opening moments lit by neon lights and set to the soundtrack of their gentle buzz, JUMBO marks a heady debut for writer-director Zoé Wittock. There’s something sacred and strangely beautiful about this romance and the movie’s brightly colored style, even if many of us initially can’t understand a human’s love for an object that seems inanimate to our eyes.”––Kimber Myers, Crooked Marquee “So will Jumbo take Jeanne’s heart for a ride? And should we object to her sexuality if she’s not hurting anyone? These questions, and more, abound in the out-there, but not-like-anything-else-out-there, JUMBO.”––Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times