Jessica Forever (2018)

Jessica Forever
Director: Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
Writer: Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
Cast: Aomi Muyock, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Augustin Raguenet, Lukas Ionesco, Paul Hamy, Eddy Suiveng, Maya Coline, Angelina Woreth, Théo Costa-Marini
Part of: Toronto International Film Festival
Seen on: 12.9.2018

Plot:
In a dystopian world constantly patrolled by drones, Jessica (Aomi Muyock) is the leader / mother figure for a group of young men. They are the drone’s prime targets and Jessica does her best to keep them all alive, but at the same time tries to retain some sense of normality and civility for them. The newest boy to join them is Michael (Sebastian Urzendowsky) who still has much to learn until he can fit in with them.

Jessica Forever was a film that alternately bored me and made me angry. It makes little to nothing of its setting and it confuses a female character wearing a uniform with an actually strong female character. It’s pretty frustrating.

The film poster showing Aomi Muyock.

Given the title, I really thought that the film would be about Jessica. If it had been, it might have worked better. But it was all about the Lost Boys she collects and she only ever gets to be their mother figure (with less of a personality than Wendy Darling ever got) and doesn’t really get much of a say or much agency beyond this collecting. And her reasons for it are never explained. Why does she fell the need to play mother? Especially to “boys” who aren’t actually boys at all, they are men.

And while we’re asking questions: Why are there no female orphans? That’s a fact that he film never bothers to address. In fact, it doesn’t seem to wonder about this at all. It’s just the way it is. The “it’s just the way it is” approach is their entire world-building philosophy, leaving the scifi setting underdevelopped and underexplored. I wish they had done more with it.

Aomi Muyock in the film.

The treatment of the women in the film was particularly aggravating, though. Jessica is obviously meant to come across as this tough, ass-kicking woman but she as well as the (few) other women in the film are only as remarkable as the men in the film make them out to be. Their entire worth comes filtered through the men’s perception.

This was absolutely annoying and colored the entire experience of the film for me. The film does have some strong visuals and a nice soundtrack but that doesn’t save it in the end. I was rather disgruntled that my visit of the TIFF ended this way.

Jessica's boys in the film.

Summarizing: made me mostly angry.

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