The Movie Waffler New to MUBI - JUPITER’S MOON | The Movie Waffler


jupiter's moon review
An unscrupulous doctor discovers a Syrian immigrant with the ability to fly.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Kornel Mundruczo

Starring: Merab Ninidze, Zsombor Jeger, Gyorgy Cserhalmi, Monika Balsai

jupiter's moon film poster

Hungarian director Kornel Mundruczo's 2014 feature White God was one of the most audacious films of many a year. The audacity continues in Jupiter's Moon, one of the most visually impressive movies to come out of Europe in recent years. It tells the fantastical story of Aryan (Zsombor Jeger), a Syrian immigrant shot dead by Laszlo (Gyorgy Cserhalmi), a ruthless immigration officer. Rather than stay dead however, Aryan's body, along with his spilled blood, begins to levitate high into the Hungarian sky as he miraculously comes back to life.

jupiter's moon review

Aryan is discovered by Gabor (Merab Ninidze), an unscrupulous doctor who moonlights in a refugee camp, having been disgraced following a botched operation that resulted in a patient's death. The parents of the dead man have filed a lawsuit against Gabor, who has been accumulating money through various illegal means in an attempt to pay them off and restore his good name. Gabor decides to cash in on Aryan's supernatural ability, taking him along on his rounds and passing him off to beguiled terminal patients as an angel. Believing Aryan has cured them with his other-worldly demonstrations, they reward Gabor handsomely, but news of the young flying Syrian soon reaches Laszlo, and Gabor and Aryan find themselves on the run.

As with White God, Mundruczo exploits Budapest here in a manner that makes you wonder if he doesn't have some dirt on its mayor. There are scenes in Jupiter's Moon that require multiple city blocks to be shut down, none more so than a subjective POV car chase filmed in one long take that hurtles us through the streets of the Hungarian capital.

jupiter's moon review

Movies are often likened to rollercoaster rides, and that's certainly a fitting metaphor for Jupiter's Moon. Mundruczo and cinematographer Marcell Rev take us on a dizzying tour of Budapest's city centre, the camera ducking in and out of cars, shops, restaurants, down into subways and beneath rivers and up, up, up into the air as it follows the levitating Aryan. In one jaw-dropping set-piece, Aryan literally turns a skinhead's world upside down, rotating his apartment in a manner that defies the laws of physics. Committed to extended takes that make you tired simply contemplating the work that must have been put into them, Jupiter's Moon is reminiscent of the work of Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Inarritu, but the urban locale makes it all the more impressive.

The FX work here is flawless, putting most mega-budget blockbusters to shame. With European cinema you can often see the strings when it comes to digitally aided sequences, but it's impossible to tell where reality ends and the greenscreen begins here. You really will believe this boy can fly!

jupiter's moon review

While it's an exciting chase thriller, thematically Jupiter's Moon can play as shallow and confused. Mundruczo throws several themes at us - religion, xenophobia, Europe's refugee crisis, guilt - but never quite explores any of them with any real depth, suggesting he may not really have that much to say about any of them, and has simply co-opted a very real crisis to give his film some poignancy.

Perhaps we expect too much from European cinema. If Jupiter's Moon were a product of Hollywood rather than Hungary, would its superficiality be called into question, or would we simply sit back and enjoy the ride? I suspect the latter. Mundruczo is by no means the new Tarkovsky or Bergman, but he is a unique presence in today's European cinema. He may be concerned with form more than content, but when the form is this dazzling, it's worth celebrating.

Jupiter's Moon is on MUBI UK now.