Connect with us

Published

on

I’m going to blunt here and just straight out say that most likely everyone who sees this French art-house film, Jessica Forever, will hate it. I liked it, but I’m definitely in the minority. Out of those who see it, maybe 99% will either hate it or just stop watching before the 10-minute mark. If you don’t believe me just go look at its audience score on IMDB. A sad 4.6! Also, the member reviews on Shudder say violently negative things.

The criticisms aren’t completely uncalled for. The film is slow, confusing, and slightly tedious (actually a lot tedious). The dialogue feels as if the writers shortened everything to just the bare minimum and left the characters to insensibly talk in scenes that never end. Then there’s the issue of the plot itself, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Despite all this, I really like the movie. I think it’s because of the whole first half that was much more interesting than the second and third acts. The major flaw here is that Jessica Forever expects too much of its audience. Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, who wrote and directed the film together, assume that their viewers are willing to dig through the many layers and interpret the film on their own.

More mystery than story

Jessica Forever is about a woman named Jessica (Aomi Muyock) and her makeshift family that consists of violent teenage boys that she’s taken in. They’re comparable to wild animals tamed by her affection, rehabilitated into peaceful warriors. It’s a dystopian film set in the distant future where orphans are outlawed and self-trained as soldiers, but the reason behind it is never explained. Outside of their isolation, a single shootout and the graphic image of the word “orphan” branded on someone’s chest, the film rarely displays their struggles and never offers up any real explanation as to why they’re struggling at all.

Why are orphans outlawed? How come they’re hunted down by killer drones? Why do they live like animals in the woods? How would the police even know they’re orphans in the first place? Who knows.

Advertisement

The strangest part is how relatively normal the rest of the world is. Malls are open, schools are open, cities are intact and people live normally. No one from the outside world seems to care about outlawed orphans running loose. It makes the danger feel insignificant, like a fantasyland they’ve imagined for themselves. Without any information outside of what’s directly happening on the screen, the story deflates way before it ever gets the chance to properly develop. It’s really about loneliness. If the word “lonely” came to life and became a movie, this would be it.

A potential relationship wasted

Despite having her name in the title, Jessica is not the star. Her role is more of a background presence guiding her adoptees. The driving force of the story is a boy named Kevin (Eddy Suiveng) who is taken in by Jessica and her group in the beginning. It’s his introduction that starts the film and his (spoiler alert) death that turns everything around.

When Kevin joins the group, he struggles to control his violent impulses before learning how to fit in with the others. He forms an intimate bond with fellow orphan Julian (Lukas Ionesco). The way they interact implies that they’re closer than friends or brothers, they seem to find a new type of comfort within each other. I loved this part of the movie, it got me infested in Kevin and his relationship with Julian and the other boys. It could have held up the film singlehandedly but then, 30 minutes in, Kevin dies and Julian becomes depressed.

That’s the death of the film for me. After that, it transitions into a new phase with less interesting characters and less interesting storylines. It’s a thinker movie, don’t watch it if you want to be entertained, but it’s truly a piece of art. Every shot is just beautiful.

2.5 out of 5 stars (2.5 / 5)

All photos are property of Shudder and Ecce Films Production

Advertisement

Rachel Roth is a writer who lives in South Florida. She has a degree in Writing Studies and a Certificate in Creative Writing, her work has appeared in several literary journals and anthologies. @WinterGreenRoth

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Movies n TV

The Boys, The Insider

Published

on

We’ve reached the second to last episode of The Boys, season four. And, as is appropriate for the penultimate episode of any show, things have to get a lot worse before they can get better.

Let’s discuss.

The story

Christmas is coming, and the whole world is getting ready. Ryan, despite being very clear that he didn’t want to appear on any TV shows or movies, has been strong-armed into participating in a Vought puppet Christmas special. He draws the line, though, when asked to sing about turning one’s parents in if they start talking about woke things.

Cameron Crovetti in The Boys.

Meanwhile, The Boys are trying to keep each other together. Butcher decides to take Sameer to the rest of the team. He also gets Frenchie out of prison, hoping they can make the Sup virus necessary to finally take down Homelander. Instead, this decision means disaster for one member of the team.

Advertisement

What worked

I first want to talk about Ryan’s speech near the end of the episode. Because it was exactly the moral of this whole story.

Ryan’s dad is a monster. His stepdad is also kind of a monster. But Ryan is a good kid. He cares about people, about family. And while he loves Homelander and Butcher, he doesn’t want to be like them.

Even better, this speech sounded like something a kid would say. Ryan didn’t open his mouth and start sounding like a college student all of a sudden. He sounds like a kid who misses his mom and wants to live up to the good standards she set for him. And I think that’s terrific.

Speaking of Homelander, he shot himself in the foot in this episode. I said earlier in the season that his hubris was going to be his downfall, and I was right. Without Sage, he just has the same weaknesses he’s always had. He’s going to fail because he just isn’t clever enough or patient enough to succeed.

Without Sage, I think a win is in the bag for The Boys. This isn’t to say that Homelander by himself isn’t dangerous. It’s just that he’s more like a wildfire than a controlled burn. He’s going to cause a lot of damage, but not get anything he wants out of it.

Advertisement

More’s the pity for him and everyone else who has to share his world.

Finally, I am thrilled with A-Train’s redemption story. I love that he wants to be a good person not to save himself, but to be a good person. His honest, pure and warm reaction to that little kid smiling at him in the last episode was heartwarming. It changed him in a moment, bringing to light a goodness that he’s been keeping under wraps for a long time.

Jessie T. Usher in The Boys.

This, along with Ryan’s courageous speech, proves once again what The Boys does so well. Yes, it’s gruesome. Yes, there’s blood and balls and batshit events. Yes, someone occasionally gets ripped in half. But there is a true human goodness in the story. One that we catch glimpses of. There are good people among the monsters. There is hope for redemption.

What didn’t work

Of course, so few things in this life are perfect, and this episode was no exception. For instance, I was irritated by the insinuation that Butcher cheated on his wife.

Advertisement

That just doesn’t make any sense. We’ve seen flashbacks of Billy and Becca. They were happy. He was happy. He was head over heels for her. And I don’t think it’s realistic or necessary for the character to throw in that he cheated. It does nothing to add to the story, it’s just a weird and offputting moment.

Doesn’t Butcher have enough to hate about himself? Can’t we just give him that at least he was a good husband?

Finally, I kind of hate that we ended up with Annie being caught. It’s just cliche, which is something I don’t normally say about this show. It feels lazy unless they do something very clever with it in the last episode. Which, I suppose, they might.

Next up is the season finale. And with this season being as insane as it has been, I’m expecting nothing short of bloody fireworks. And I mean literal fireworks of blood. At this point, would it surprise anyone?

Advertisement
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Continue Reading

Movies n TV

The Boys, Dirty Business

Published

on

Episode six of The Boys was one of the most surprising episodes of the series so far. And that is certainly saying something. Because this season has so far been bonkers.

The story

Our episode today revolves around a party at Tek Knight’s lovely mansion. Yes, it does look just like Wayne Manor.

The Boys know that Tek Knight is working with Homelander on something, but they don’t know the details. So they decide to send Hughie in to bug the mansion.

Because that’s worked so well the other two times he’s tried to hide a bug!

Advertisement

It should surprise no one that this time goes no better. Hughie finds himself in Tek Knight’s basement. And by that I mean his BDSM dungeon.

Meanwhile, the party upstairs is no less disturbing. Homelander and Sage are trying to convince some well-off political donors to support a cue after the election. When pressed for details on his plan, Homelander freezes. He looks to Sage for help, but she wasn’t recently shot in the head and still in the junk food stage of her healing.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your point of view, Neuman jumps in and saves the day.

Claudia Doumit in The Boys.

What works

If I’m going to say one thing about this episode, it didn’t hold back at all. I didn’t expect them to show a character masturbating, sitting their bare behind on a cake, or spraying breastmilk into someone’s face. But every time I thought they’d cut the scene and let something be left to our imagination, they did not do that.

Derek Wilson in The Boys.

This is a dangerous move. Whenever you show the monster, you run the risk of them not being scary enough, or gross enough. As Stephen King says in Danse Macabre, to leave this sort of thing to the imagination if the reader makes things so much worse. So when they finally experience the monster, they might say that this isn’t so bad. It could have been so much worse.

But in this case, they managed to avoid that by making the scenes, especially the ones in Tek Knight’s dungeon, so much worse than I imagined it would be.

Advertisement

What doesn’t work

While this was a deeply disturbing episode in many ways, there was one really innocent and sweet moment.

And yes, I did have a problem with it.

Confronted by Firecracker, Annie decides to apologize for spreading rumors about her when they were kids. She tells her that she is genuinely sorry.

And I believe her. I don’t think Firecracker did, but I did.

So why is this an issue? Because I’m starting to think that Annie is maybe too nice. She is too good.

Advertisement

I know that Annie is our good guy. But every one of the other good guys has flaws. Hughie let his pride get in the way and took Temp V. MM hid himself from his daughter instead of teaching her to work through her emotions. Kimiko is far too closed off and has a hard time trusting others. Frenchie numbs himself with drugs. And well, what hasn’t Butcher done?

It is unrealistic that Annie is just so kind and so flawless. We all have shadows in our personalities. We all have weaknesses, we all mess up. We all do things we wish we could take back. The fact that Annie doesn’t seem to have anything like that is not just unrealistic. It’s infantilizing.

Give her some deep dark secrets. Give her something real to regret.

This was a shocking episode, even for someone fairly jaded like me. I wasn’t expecting the sort of weird sexual depravity, though I guess maybe I should have seen it coming. It was dark, upsetting, tense, and funny as hell. And with just two episodes left in the season, I can imagine the stakes are only going to get higher.

Advertisement
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

Continue Reading

Movies n TV

House of he Dragon: S2E4 – The Return of Trogdor!

Published

on

Instead of recapping this episode, I will link you to Strongbad, so you can see something with a dragon that doesn’t suck.

See you for Episode 5!

Continue Reading

Trending