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The narrative layer of Jumpman, can be watched as a monochrome negative of Xavier Dolan’s Mother. Here, instead of learning responsibility, there will be a desire to prey on other person, and instead of forging difficult love – the murderous specificity of the Russian system will be transplanted into family relations.

For one of the boys growing up in the orphanage, boys given over to the “window of life” – the one suffering from congenital analgesia (not experiencing pain) to be exact – mother, Oksana, arrives. It quickly turns out that, despite the apparent signs of sympathy, it is not about the selfless maternal love of someone who regrets an earlier mistake and wants to start a new life and a new relationship with her abandoned child. In this way, Denis goes to an organized criminal group interested in his rare disease, and starts to prey on the justice system.

Sputnik over Poland – press materials

Ivan Tverdovskiy juggles threads with ease, paying attention not only to the family. The relationship between Oksana and Denis, with hidden, forbidden sexual tension between them, is only an excuse to look at the ubiquitous corruption and inefficiency of public services. After all, as the director suggests, the state is the mother for everyone, and everyone are its foundlings[1]. Wild money rules here, and everything in its clutches seems to work like clockwork – from soulless health care through the police to the court. According to one of the film’s characters, “people are divided into two types: those who toss and those who are tossed. There are millions of foundlings.” Meanwhile, the tossed, standing at the lowest level of the hierarchy, have little to say, despite the fact that the whole operation of the criminal machine is based on them and they are ones generating the profit. Sometimes they will be heroes, other times “trash that streets are full of” and which can be easily replaced.

What could have become the director’s greatest asset does not necessarily work well for him. It seems that he is not able to fit so many moral and socially involved threads in the foreground of the film, trying to save itself by accelerated editing – perhaps effective, but certainly not efficacious.

Perhaps Jumpman lacks dramatic tension, without which film reality is not very reliable. Another Russian creator, Yuri Bykov (The Fool, 2014), managed to show that it is possible to produce socially involved cinema with a pressing commitment. Tverdovskiy, in turn, leaves us with some hope at every step – but isn’t it false? Is it really possible to as easily escape the anti-human contempt machine, as became part of it?


[1] Original title of the movie can be translated as foundlings, changeling children.

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Mateusz Tarwacki

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Laura Przybylska
Laura Przybylska