Having seen his ambitious project White God receive positive praise from 2014’s Cannes Film Festival, director Kornél Mundruczó returns in the Official Competition section of the programme with Jupiter’s Moon, a tale of a refugee who finds himself possessing the gift of flight and taken under the wing of the doctor who first experiences this god-like phenomenon.
While many will have praised Mundruczó for his ambition with White God and its plethora of canines, Jupiter’s Moon is a much less impressive feat of filmmaking, providing somewhat of a frustrating experience after what is a reasonably promising opening.
Immediately solidifying his strong message in the opening scenes, the directors lays the foundations for a film focused on the strong subject of refugees and their struggles, before turning to god-like, religious tones. This would be an acceptable thing to take on board had the film not thrust it front and centre at every opportunity, leaving the viewer fatigued way before the closing moments.
In its setup, one would not be a fool for thinking that Jupiter’s Moon would contain some element of science fiction in its core narrative, especially with its focal character possessing an ‘ability’, but instead we are handed a rather heavy-handed approach to getting across a message that really does feel overdrawn, confused and ultimately forgettable.
Where the film does thankfully garner some interest is its camerawork, with a particular scene of escaped refugees running through the woods captured beautifully in a single panned shot, while the moments of flight also provide some solace – before they eventually become an over-utilised element.
The film’s leading stars Merab Ninidze and György Cserhalmi are certainly not ones to be frowned at, giving at least some level of intrigue and charisma to their respective characters, but they are indeed let down by a storyline that is muddled and too self-absorbed that they are essentially left well out of the driver’s seat. While the pair are indeed some way to helping the film along in a positive way, Jupiter’s Moon presents to us a truly clichéd and dull villain of the piece, with a ruffled policeman looking to bring down our ‘gifted’ individual turning out to be something that carries no real threat or interest.
Even a moment towards the final third involving a car chase results in a massively undersold and underwhelming sequence that could have been so much more. Driven purely by what should essentially be the thrill of the chase, this particular scene instead fails to deliver the killer blow purely for the fact that it is overdrawn to the point of the audience willing it to finish. There are rare near misses and tight corner turns but never does it feel exciting, nor does it get the adrenaline pumping how such a chase should.
Bitterly disappointing in terms of its overall storytelling and heavy-handed messages, Jupiter’s Moon is a rather frustrating and tedious affair that garners very little in the way of positive reaction and questions just why such a film has been included in this year’s Official Competition. Our money certainly won’t be on this one to snatch the Palme d’Or.