DIR: Kornél Mundruczó • WRI:Kornél Mundruczó, Kata Wéber• PRO: Viola Fügen, Michel Merkt, Viktória Petrányi, Michael Weber • DOP: Marcell Rév • ED: Dávid Jancsó • MUS: Jed Kurzel • DES: Márton Ágh • CAST: Merab Ninidze, Zsombor Jéger, György Cserhalmi
Those who feel worn out by the vastly over-saturated superhero genre should do themselves a favour and check out this gem from Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo (White God). Originally screened in competition at Cannes, Jupiter’s Moon begins with a group of Syrian refugees attempting to cross over to Hungary. Attacked by border patrol, a trigger-happy agent (György Cserhalmi) kills Aryan (Zsombor Jéger, a dead ringer for Gael Garcia Bernal). However, Aryan is found healing and floating in the air by Stern (Merab Ninidze) a corrupt refugee camp doctor with a tragic past. The two go on the run, using the migrant’s special powers to make cash. Yet, they are pursued by the agent who shot Aryan originally, attempting to cover his tracks.
Hollywood should come calling to Mundruczo’s door soon because he stages a handful of phenomenal scenes in Jupiter’s Moon. The opening border patrol raid, shot as an extended one-take following Aryan running through the forests at Hungary’s border, evokes memories of the muscular filmmaking of Children of Men. The levitation scenes with their swirling, gliding camera work call to the mind the dizziness of the action spectacle of Gravity. The audience see a car chase in which the camera is placed on the bonnet of a vehicle in pursuit of another and are right in the action as two cars graze against each other at full speed. Meanwhile, it all ends in an impressively staged hotel shootout that the Wachowski’s would be proud of.
Yet it is not just the action beats Mundruczo nails. A breathtaking moment sees Aryan flee from his pursuers by calmly floating down an apartment block. The audience only see the refugees’ shadow glide down the building, all the while getting glimpses into the other apartment occupants going about their day through windows in a gorgeously composed shot. If Mundruczo could accomplish so much on a Hungarian film’s budget, it boggles the mind what he could do with the financial backing of a big studio.
Cannes may have not been the correct place to premiere the movie because although it’s certainly ambitious in terms of its themes, it lacks the grace in covering them one would associate for movies in competition. The movie, in its first half, seems to be highlighting the excessive force inflicted upon refugees by Hungarian ‘border hunters’. However, later we learn that many of the immigrants Aryan travelled with were terrorists. This plot-beat blurs the message of the film (perhaps intentionally to highlight the complexity of the issues being addressed) but leaves a bad taste in automatically assuming that groups of refugees would generally include extremists.
That said, the film does possess a weighty thematic backdrop in regards its exploration of religion in today’s society. Stern, in his past, botched an operation because he was drunk and begins to see Aryan or the ‘angel’ as a way of redeeming himself. He discusses how that people live their lives today horizontally and that Aryan is a reminder to look up, to open one’s eyes to miracles around us. It’s a hopeful message, especially appreciated in these times of unrest. Although Jupiter’s Moon may not be deep enough for the Cannes’ audience, genre hounds who do not mind subtitles will get a kick out of it.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Jupiter’s Moon is released 5th January 2018