The Wild Sundance Movie About a Woman in Love With a Theme-Park Ride
The lyrical French Sundance indie “Jumbo” focuses on a little-known condition called objectophilia in which people develop romantic feelings for inanimate objects.
Jumbo may be among the first narrative films to focus on objectophilia—or romantic attraction to inanimate objects—but there have been enough TLC segments on the condition to at least half-absorb one’s attention through a very long flight. Perhaps the most famous of these cases is Erika Eiffel, an Olympic archer who married the Eiffel Tower in 2004. In the media, Eiffel’s case was rarely taken seriously, surveyed instead with raised eyebrows and punny punchlines.
Eiffel’s story was also the inspiration behind Jumbo, which approaches its object romance—between a theme park worker named Jeanne and a ride named Jumbo—with far greater curiosity and generosity than they’re so often granted. The film is writer-director Zoé Wittock’s debut feature, and it’s an impressively realized study, nailing a tricky tone without judging or fetishizing its subject. It’s also a gorgeous film visually, full of dimly lit sequences punctuated with swirls of vibrant color. Throughout, the story spins on an axis of vigorous subjectivity; from its vivid opening shot, in which Jeanne (Portrait of a Lady on Fire’sdazzling Noémie Merlant) stands in a field gazing at the ride, we’re acutely aware that what we’re about to experience belongs to her and her alone.