Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot [They Call Me Jeeg] (2015)

Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot
Director: Gabriele Mainetti
Writer: Nicola GuaglianoneMenotti
Cast: Claudio SantamariaLuca MarinelliIlenia PastorelliStefano AmbrogiMaurizio TeseiFrancesco Formichetti
Part of: /slash Filmfestival (Secret Society Screening)
Seen on: 2.10.2016
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Enzo (Claudio Santamaria) is a small time crook who works for Zingaro (Luca Marinelli). One night he has to run from the police and his only chance to escape is a jump into the heavily polluted Tiber river. It works and Enzo heads home. When he wakes up the next day, everything is different: Enzo now has superpowers and with them the chance to start fresh. Or at least to become a more competent robber. But superpowers won’t go unnoticed, neither by Zingaro nor by Enzo’s neighbor Ale (Ilenia Pastorelli).

Lo chiamavano Jeeg Robot takes on USAmerican comic and superhero lore, mixes in a bit of manga and transplants them to Italy – an idea I generally liked. Unfortunately they took every single problematic trope with them in the process, leaving me less than impressed with the result.

[SPOILERS]

I liked that they started with the origin story – and such a classic one as that, with Enzo falling into the Tiber as Obelix into the vat of magic potion with radioactive garbage to provide the certain je ne sais quois. And I liked that Ale provides the Japanese manga or rather anime context. Hands down the best thing about the film was the mask she makes for Enzo.

But unfortunately Enzo is a real asshole. It’s not only that his entire goal in life is to sit around and watch porn – I could have lived with that, even though it doesn’t exactly make for a glamorous story. He is drawn to Ale, even though the movie takes every single opportunity to infantilize her, so that’s slightly icky. Also, she’s obviously heavily traumatized and maybe has an intellectual disability, so if he wants to woo her, he would have to be superextraduper careful. And what does Enzo do? He rapes her.

But it’s okay, the movie wants to suggest. Because Enzo really didn’t mean her harm. And he’s very sorry afterwards. Really, really sorry. I have news for you, movie: that shit really doesn’t work that way. In fact, the film seems to know that it can’t really pull that off, so they take the easy way out and fridge Ale. No consequences anymore!

Add to that that the villain of the film – who’s called the Italian equivalent of “Gypsy”, so a racial slur – sleeps with trans women, seemingly only to make sure that we know he’s an evil fucker: he’s even a sexual deviant.

There were just too many things about this that were like a slap in the face. And then the second half really started to drag, killing off what little enjoyment of the film was left to me. At least there was the mask – that I still think the film was pretty okay is mostly because of it and really tells you how awesome it was.

Summarizing: If you’re really, really into superheroes, go for it. Otherwise don’t.

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