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Fantastic Fest capsule review: Jacky in the Kingdom of Women

Staff Writer
Austin 360

My favorite thing about the Fantastic Fest schedule each year is the diversity. While the festival attracts some of the biggest genre fans in the world, there is a limit to how much depravity one person can handle on any given day. That’s why having films like “Jacky In The Kingdom Of Women” in the mix are so important.

This ridiculous French satire isn’t going to win any awards, but it presents an intriguing concept and a lot of laughs. In the fictional dictatorship that keeps the People’s Democratic Republic of Bubunne afloat, gender politics as we know them are turned upside down. Here, women have all of the power and men tend to the needs of their wives and keep the house clean. Men are expected to wear long flowing gowns (that resemble the chadors worn by Iranian women), aren’t allowed to be educated or go into the work force. The entire police force and military is made up of women, and the country is ruled by an older woman called The General and her daughter, The Colonel (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

When The General decides to marry her daughter off to an eligible man, the country goes wild with anticipation. Jacky (Vincent Lacoste) is already infatuated with The Colonel just from seeing photographs of her posted everywhere. He convinces himself that if he can just meet The Colonel that she’ll fall in love with him.

There are a lot of big ideas floating around in this movie, and not all of them work. Still, the movie reverses these traditional gender roles to show us just how silly our culture can be and how religion can stifle personal freedom (everybody in Bubunne worships horses known as the Holy Mares). The accepted desires of the citizenry are strictly to get married, eat their daily mush (the only food-like substance in the country resembles porridge) and to pray. Beyond that, there isn’t much to hope for.

Director Riad Sattouf manages to juggle the satirical message with some truly funny gags that recall the early comedies of Woody Allen. Gainsbourg doesn’t get much to do until the middle of the movie, but she definitely gets the last laugh.