PANORAMA: JESSICA FOREVER BY CAROLINE POGGI AND JONATHAN VINEL

This entry was posted on February 9th, 2020

By José Sarmiento Hinojosa

Travelling around CPH:DOX, Berlinale, IndieLisboa and Toronto, Jessica Forever is a strange new creature from Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel, a suburban post-apocalyptic sci-fi that follows a group of rebellious young men and her leader, Jessica, in a struggle to keep surviving against a “virtual” totalitarian regime. Or so we think, because they unravel slowly in what seems to be a normal modern world, just splattered with hints of post-disaster abandoned pristine houses, military drones that appear from nowhere, the constant threat of something: an invisible hint of disaster and a hidden common enemy.

There is something particularly special about the mood of this film and its strangeness, though: Jessica Forever seems to be more an intimate drama of youth dipped in waters of science fiction, that a science fiction movie with dramatic elements in it. The main issue, isolation, violence, troubled youth, could be seen openly through the film as the main narrative element, but also as a subtext of what could be also the story of any youth that struggles and resists against different antagonists: capitalism, totalitarianism, a teenage angst driven by an indifferent society, etc. In that regard, the film works beautifully as we see the development and growth of these young men and their leader, their losses, their intimacy, their failed attempt to reconcile with the “regular” world.

The stylistic choices by Poggi and Vinel, of subdued performances, slow-paced scenes, energetic modern music and  a credits aesthetic very much in order of their needs to portray this strange universe, create an cinematic uncanny valley which is difficult to traverse and which can definitely make people either love or hate this film. However, its mood inscribes perfectly into their element of artificial alienation, paradoxically joined with the close intimacy of the filmmakers’ story. Poggi and Vinel are a couple not to be missed, and this film will surely claim its cult status sometime in the future.

Directors: Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
Producer: Emmanuel Chaumet
Music composed by: Ulysse Klotz
Screenplay: Caroline Poggi, Jonathan Vinel
2019
France
97 min