The presence of violence and “pack mentality” survival dominate the dystopian visual presentation in Jessica Forever. Chromatically rich landscape shots forge a pleasant background to the multitude of violent and emotive interludes in this first joint directorial from Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel.
The screenplay unearths the fictional story of a futuristic world where brutish orphan males are left roaming on every street corner filled with rage and violence. Jessica, a beautiful, resilient female, is both their leader and rescuer. Attempting to tame their destructive savagery to form a more peaceful collective, her nurturing manner is consistently affirmed throughout the narrative in a purely platonic form.
Whilst the titular protagonist essentially saves these orphans and ultimately expands her unconventional family, the plot also follows the threat they face from the powers that be who want to be rid of them. A mass of deadly drones become the enemy that seek them out, exploring the relation between machine, human and trust within the group.
With no specific year or location given, the beautiful cinematography from Marina Alterns paints dreamy sunsets, gorgeous beaches and a wealthy suburban neighbourhood. The filmmakers hint at a future timeline through their use of drones, the distinct demise of the population and a scattering of sci-fi.
The tale of a female outsider keeps the piece moving along so we access a deeper understanding of the group dynamics and some of their backgrounds. A deliberate move to contain the musical score from composer Ulysse Klotz leaves space for a plethora of natural sounds. The wind, the sea and daily chores like hoovering are broken with the shattering of glass and gunshots, which intentionally amplify the incidents of violence.
The directors’ background in video gaming is apparent throughout the work too. The characters have distinct roles and can escape through this electronic interaction, either as a way of connecting with others in their group, linking to their past or simply achieving a departure from reality. This element will really appeal to a digital generation and there are some beautifully shot VR moments that reflect the genre.
Taking the viewer on a journey of both violence and beauty, the feature highlights mental health and the connection between how we treat each other and the consequences of our actions. Romantic junctures add a gentle addition to the harsh edges of this film, making us contemplate the meaning of family and ultimately the importance of love.
Jessica Forever does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Berlin Film Festival 2019 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Berlin Film Festival website here.