Objectophilia is a form of sexual or romantic attraction focused on particular inanimate objects. That being said, this movie is more about the character’s unique way of seeing the world. This is shown in the film with some extraordinary visuals and a great performance by Noémie Merlant. The relationship you see taking the spotlight here is between an extrovert mother and an introvert daughter. Don’t worry, you’ll get to meet Jumbo soon enough.
Jumbo was written and directed by Zoé Wittock. The script was inspired on the story of Ericka Eiffel, who married the Eiffel Tower. However, other than the object sexuality aspect, this is a completely original story. Jeanne Tantois (Noémie Merlant) is a withdrawn woman that has problems socializing with people. It doesn’t help there’s a lot of people that just won’t give her a break. Her loving mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) is her complete opposite, extrovert and open about her sexuality. Jeanne feels most comfortable when she’s working nights at the amusement park cleaning up the rides, especially one.
I couldn’t help but empathize with Jeanne’s view of the world as an outsider. Her mom is not overbearing but she’s adamant in trying to break her out of her shell. When Jeanne has a fantasy moment with the Move-It ride which she renames “Jumbo”, we’re seeing the world with her eyes. The lights and the sound that comes from it might have been in her mind, but it doesn’t negate her emotions. Eventually this also awakens her sexuality.
It doesn’t really matter if everything we see when Jumbo moves by himself or when Jeanne has these strange visions whether they happen or not. The film does have sexually charged imagery but it’s not done gratuitously. Margarette first reacts very negatively to her daughter’s affection/obsession but she eventually becomes supportive. I found the finale tried to force some excitement at the end. I think a more tender reunion of mother and daughter was what the story should’ve called for.
Recommended with reservations to an open-mind audience. The performance of Noémie Merlant as Jeanne is very endearing and vulnerable. Her attraction does become sexual so this is hardly a family film, but it’s definitely a very human one. The film never presents what Jeanne sees as a way to demean her. There’s a message of acceptance embedded in the evolution of the relationship between Jeanne and her mother. My biggest peeve is the ending is deciding for an unfittingly exciting finale when a quiet emotional one would’ve worked better.
That will do for now.