Jumbo – a magnificent mechanical ballet


Jumbo is playing in selected cinemas nationwide now

Love is an emotion often felt but rarely understood; it is overwhelmingly powerful and terrifyingly devastating all at once, a violent reaction moments from splitting or multiplying. Despite the inherently intangible nature of love, we still try to place our conventions onto it, trapping it in a box and marking the boundaries. Maybe this helps us feel like we have a semblance of control over the feeling when in reality, we are powerless against its all-encompassing grasp. We see so many depictions of a singular form of romantic love in our media, often white and often heterosexual – a one-size-fits-all hole for a shape whose form is indescribable. The truth is, love is like a fairytale, magical and spellbinding, fantastical yet rooted in humanity. I like to think that’s how Zoé Wittock sees love.

We’ve all seen those absurd pairings; for example, a woman marries the Eiffel Tower, or a man falls in love with his car; relationships like these seem impossibly comical. But where we see absurdity, Wittock sees beauty and difference.


Jeanne is different; she is shy and reserved, a polemic opposite of her outgoing, sultry mother, Margarette (Emanuelle Bercot). In Jeanne’s room, little DIY amusement rides comprised of tiny twinkling lights and warped slivers of metal create her own wonderland, transforming her room into a small-scale park; to her, her park is her home. So it’s no surprise to us when she falls head over heels for Jumbo, a new amusement park ride. Jeanne falls for Jumbo the same way anyone would fall for another – slowly and gently and then profoundly, as though pulled by an unseen force. Wittock’s camera crafts a gentle closeness between the pair as Jeanne is bathed in the neon glow of carnival colours. It’s hard to watch Jumbo’s magnificent mechanical ballet and not feel as mesmerised as Jeanne as you fall into the trap of the turning structure’s hypnotic gaze.


Wittock clearly has personal knowledge of the human condition, as Jumbo explores a level of intimacy that feels universal yet barely touched. As Jeanne’s fingers gently trace Jumbo’s lights, carefully considering the tiny frays and scratches, she creates an almost haptic experience that transfixes you. Unlike Jeanne’s incredulous mother or the park manager, Marc, you never once question Jeanne’s dedication or her commitment to this inanimate yet erotic object. Here Jumbo emits a philosophy of love that is not imprisoned by convention. It embraces the beautiful chaos of emotion and emphasises the importance of allowing yourself to feel what you feel and not be restricted by the narrow-mindedness of others. Jumbo feels like a modern-day fairy tale, a beautifully penned ode to love.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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