Kornél Mundruczó / Hungary, Germany, France / 2017 / 129 mins
At the Filmhouse until Thu 1 Feb 2018
The latest release from avant-garde Hungarian director Mundruczó (White God) sees a Syrian father and son attempting to cross the border from Serbia into Hungary. As immigration authorities arrive on the scene, the pair become separated and young Aryan (Zsombor Jéger) is gunned down by a trigger-happy cop… but rather than have the decency to simply lie there and expire, the boy literally floats up into the air. The cheek of it! It’s something he now apparently has the ability to command at will, but before he can get a handle on his new superpowers, he’s brought firmly back down into the gutter by a disgraced doctor (Merab Ninidze) with slack morals and a thirst for the sauce. The story gallops on at a helter-skelter pace from there.
The camerawork here is exemplary. From the claustrophobic confines of a lorry packed with desperate refugees to the disorientating lack of gravity that mirrors Aryan’s newfound abilities, cinematographer Marcell Rév is clearly a master having great fun with his art. There’s an especially impressive car chase, and although Aryan’s levitational trick might be a little stale at the last showing, each prior incidence is treated with enough ingenuity and distinction to make them compelling. Thematically, the film throws up so many cans of worms that they end up wriggling all over your brain; there’s the obvious immigration crisis at the fore, but the movie also sticks its fingers into the pies of Christianity and saintliness, corruption and redemption, social inequality and the state. Frankly, it’s a bit of a confusing mess which doesn’t even pretend it’ll tie up the loose ends, and in that respect it does a great job of holding up a mirror to the current state of the world.
Normally when you tune in to a superhero flick, you’re pretty sure of the basic outline the plot will take. The same can be said (to a certain extent) with a gritty immigration drama, as well. Jupiter’s Moon smashes those two disparate genres violently together, resulting in an erratic roller-coaster of a movie that barely pauses for breath. It’s refreshing to see a director attempt something so unorthodox and highly enjoyable to genuinely not have a clue in which direction the storyline is heading… unfortunately, the film itself doesn’t seem to have an inkling either. Get past the lack of cohesion and closure, however, and you’ll be richly rewarded through the cinematic and thematic invention on show.