From Hungary, the indie science fiction film Jupiter’s Moon follows the story of Aryan, a Syrian refugee played by Zsombor Jéger who is shot to death but doesn’t die and instead discovers he has the incredible power of flight. The indie film, also produced via France and Germany, won Best Film at STIGES and best director at Fantastic Fest and with good reason. Read on!
Jupiter’s Moon: Man or Monster
Is Aryan an angel or a demon? There’s a bit of that debate at the heart of Jupiter’s Moon, a film that starts off big, discussing the many moons of Jupiter. It slowly narrows us down to one, Europa, a celestial body thought to house the potential for life. The film focuses in even more, on a rooster; perhaps a subtle joking wink, as if asking ‘what came first?’ And then we meet Aryan, his father, and a caravan of refugees seeking asylum in Europe. The opening sequence features a Cuaron-esque extended single take of immigrants running for their lives. It’s beautiful and immediately makes you take notice of director Kornél Mundruczó’s (White Dog) technical mastery.
As the story progresses, Jupiter’s Moon reminds us over and over of Aryan’s power. It gives us glimpses into how it plays into the lives of the people who witness the gravity-defying ascent of this super-human. The FX in each case are mind-bending and flawlessly executed in much the same ways as Nolan’s Inception. Aryan’s power is represented in a swim-like rise through the air and accompanied by a lovely theme from composer Jed Kurzel.
Matters are made far worse when …
Aryan is the “super-hero” here, but Jupiter’s Moon closely follows Doctor Gabor Stern (Merab Ninidze) who oversees healthcare at a refugee camp and lets a few escape for the right price. It’s an unspoken arrangement allowed to go on by local law enforcement lead by László (György Cserhalmi). However, when the good doctor witnesses the power of Aryan, his anti-religious nature sees the light and it’s made of money. Later, László sees Aryan hovering and will stop at nothing to get the young man back.
Doctor Stern helps Aryan escape the camp, and together they begin a life of blowing people’s minds for money. The doctor sells a possibility and Aryan makes people a believer by gliding up, like an angel. The arrangement is working well, but Aryan is conflicted. Matters are made far worse when one of the men is framed in a terrorist attack.
Those visuals, man …
The film consistently dazzles with how it uses Aryan’s power to fly. There is no shortage of creativity when it comes to how they show Aryan’s gliding power. One sequence takes us down from an apartment building rooftop. Aryan’s shadow is cast on the wall as we witness the day-to-day lives of random people who are unaware of the magic happening just outside.
From a visual point of view, Jupiter’s Moon is a must-see. The special effects are flawless and used to advance the story in each and every case. It’s not spectacle for the sake of it and for cinephiles, the sheer mastery of timing for some sequences is wonderful.
Jupiter’s Moon’s major problem lies in a story that’s a little unfocused at times. It gets bogged down by its snail pace and lack of bite when it comes to the things that could be questioned here. It feigns a more profound religious argument then backs away. Neither Stern or Aryan are particularly interesting and suffer from muddled motivations. However, as things start to get dull, those visuals, man, they just do something mesmerizing.