Jupiter’s Moon review: Kornél Mundruczó follows up his 2014 Un Certain Regard winner White God with this interesting drama where you will believe a man can fly.
Jupiter’s Moon review by Paul Heath at the 2017 Festival de Cannes.
An old art teacher in secondary school used to tell me ‘remember to look up, people don’t look up anymore.’ This is a phrase that very much applies to this Hungarian effort; a kind of sci-fi drama with religious undertones, all set within a very topical political and social climate.
Kornél Mundruczó’s Jupiter’s Moon begins with an ambitious one-take, one-shot sequence focusing on a group of refugees heading into Hungary from Syria via boat. The action hones in on a young man named Aryan (Zsombor Jéger) and his father who are almost immediately split up as one of said boats collapses when authorities close in to prevent them all from entering the country. This results in a cat and mouse chase between Aryan and local cop Laszlo (György Cserhalmi) in neighboring woods, an event that ends with the policeman shooting the refugee three times in the chest. Instead of dying, the young man immediately levitates into the air, rising above the ground to over a hundred feet up, much to the bemusement of the Laszlo. The action then relocates to a local refugee camp where disgraced doctor Gabor Stern (Merab Ninidze) escapes with Aryan, the middle-aged man looking to capitalise on the refugee’s astonishing gift.
Jupiter’s Moon is a film that seems to span many genres, and this is as much its downfall as its biggest. I’m in agreement with other journalists here in Cannes who compare the film to the work of Alejandro González Iñárittu (Birdman), or even Alfonso Cuaran – Children Of Men is a definite comparison, and the scenes involving extended takes are when the film works the best. The opening sequence cleverly uses hidden cuts to maximum effect, and a thrilling car chase three-quarters of the way through are big highlights, as is the stunning finale in a grand Budapest hotel – a phenomenal piece of well-staged cinema which really does have you on the edge of your seat. It’s the other aspects of the film where things start to struggle. The two actors at the forefront of the piece do their best with the muddle screenplay, one that is rife with constant metaphysical elements that feel forced and detract from the story more often that not.
Praise must be heaped upon the obviously well-planned action set pieces and too a pinnacle scene halfway in featuring a revolving set which features some absolutely stunning camerawork from cinematographer Marcell Rév and his team.
It’s great to see the obviously talented Mundruczó scoring a film in the official selection for the first time after his 2014 Un Certain Reagrd winner White God, and while his latest is certainly an interesting piece of cinema, it would have been even more enjoyable to see the filmmaker develop the weaker sections of the script and tone down the subtext a little.
Jupiter’s Moon review by Paul Heath, May 2017.
Jupiter’s Moon premieres at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19th 2017.