Saturday, February 22

Jessica Forever Review

By Emery Snyder @leeroy711
Director: Caroline Poggi & Jonathan Vinel
Starring: Aomi Muyock, Sebastian Urzendowsky & Augustin Raguenet
Shudder Original – February 20, 2020

Jessica (Muyock) is the matriarchal leader of a group of orphaned boys in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world that hunts and kills them. They train together, eat and nap together, always moving to keep from being caught by the “special forces” of weaponized drones that shoot on site. They live in a world of clinical ugliness and marvel at anything pretty. Throughout their journeys, their isolation and loneliness manifests itself in angst, materialism, jealousy, greed and all types of insecurities typical of young, undisciplined masculinity. Jessica replies with only love, constantly attempting to maintain a safe place for these lost and damaged boys.

Like most post-apocalyptic visions of the future, this film certainly seems to be making an earnest attempt at warning us of the future of our logical progression. There is a lot going on here. And I’m unfortunately unconvinced that this story ever achieves the focus required to properly convey anything that could be considered a thesis. Elements of fascism, Marxism, consumerism and anarchy all seem to take rather insignificant turns, coloring a world that was never sufficiently contextualized by the film’s setting.

We get some glimpses and ideas about why these young men are on the lamb but only Lucas (Raguenet) is given a full back-story. Our titular character, Jessica is the vaguest of the lot. She unfortunately ends up feeling like a purely reactionary character less than a driving force for our story. I won’t always find fault with these types of indistinctions in a film, but when the rest of the film seems satisfied with tossing together a smorgasbord of thematic elements, I end up unfulfilled with the result. The story could have, at any moment, taken the momentum built from one of its many plot points and expanded. The filmmakers chose rather, to stall out and change pace and directions. This constant exploration gives the film the imprint of ambiguous morals, at best.

But I digress, I will always concede that it is not the film’s fault that it did not satisfy what may very well be my subjective impression of what I expected it should be. I am in no way suggesting that the filmmakers were in any way, promoting any sort of hateful ideology. If anything, the film was attempting to promote unconditional love, redemption and forgiveness. This is what Jessica gives to her boys and maybe this would have been more evident had she played a larger role in the film.

The technical aspects on display are a bit of a mixed bag as well. All of the performances work well, specifically those of Muyock and Raguenet. Marine Atlan’s cinematography is crisp and does a great job at capturing the beautiful locations and contrasting them with the heinous acts of violence. The music was a mix of a Ulysse Klotz score with contemporary rock soundtrack.

There is also a healthy dose of CGI used here, dangerously set over the top of some of the film’s slow-motion scenes. This typically doesn’t mix well but I although the effects were far from great, I didn’t find them distracting. I think the finishing editor did a great job of mixing the colors, so it didn’t end up looking too fake. I credit the overall evolution of this technology as much as anything else.

All in all, I can’t fault this film too much. I appreciate its ambition. I just think its lack of focus and thesis kept me from buying in all the way. It’s a beautifully shot concept that you could have probably pulled three or four compelling stories out of. Just not all at once.

Emery’s Rating
2.5 out of 5 Stars
Follow us on Twitter @CodaReviews

No comments:

Post a Comment