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Directed by Gilles Graveleau  |  Review by Moumita Deb

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]hot on a single location, deeply fantastical, yet poignantly convincing with bizarre jolts of hallucinations; Joss is a dark comedy about the pangs of aloneness in a society where everyone remains preoccupied with their so-called ‘social friend circle ‘. It is also a tragic farce about the cult of appearance maintained by social networks that culminate in the weird concept of cardboard replicas or “friends for fake” When solitude becomes too heavy for Jocelyn, he breaks all barriers of absurdity and begins to talk to the silhouettes that he was cutting in cardboard for years. With a powerfully character-driven plot, Jocelyn, alias Mr. Carton, is a sweet n crazy man balancing on the wire of a wandering childhood and a complicated life of self-deception.

Whereas a glassy stare of anxiety dominates throughout the movie, with its absorbing scenes, no other film could so plausibly show an entire, warped world created from a single point of view. A beautifully crafted portrayal of mental disintegration, Joss’ masterly style attracts as much as its grim subject matter repels: rarely has the theme of a film been so well and harmonically balanced. On screen throughout the film, Gilles Graveleau gives a wondrously subtle performance as the increasingly catatonic man, but equally expressive is his terrifying inner torment.

Sometimes surreal but never over-emphatic are the incredible visual and aural effects created by the director, to accompany Joss’ wandering around the empty apartment or the obsession with his role models. Right from the start, the film is both weird and uncompromising as Jocelyn alias Joss begins to withdraw into a reclusive existence where his deep-seated sense of insecurity distorts innocuous everyday realities.

As he retreats into a terrifying world of fantasies and nightmares, Gilles employs a host of wonderfully integrated visual and aural effects to suggest the inner torment the protagonist suffers: The film poses the questions that our social life seeks to ask to our inner self, “are we truly living the life that we project?” and what effect can this possibly have on one’s self-esteem and our extended community?

The film casts a harsh light on our addictive entanglement with social media, which has dipped a toe in almost every online networking platform, instigating the victim to intentionally capture and frame these experiences to mislead people, to build out a greater image of his life and make it more exciting. Joss compels us to contemplate on how small a fine line there is between truly living the life you post and being able to craft some other illusory fake life for an equally fake society.

The film puts forth an intriguing set-up where we are given an introduction to a celebrity-crazed man whose entire world – a rather strange and unnerving place to be – is dedicated to his idols.

Joss is a tautly original genre-bending exercise, technically sleek and accomplished, with some vivid, unnerving yet emotive moments.
Joss not only compels active viewing but there are moments when the movie takes us firmly by the hand and escorts us down a darkened path, and then lead to a horribly justified denouement.

With an ironic breed of cynicism on celebrity worship with the protagonist finding more solace and camaraderie within fictional relationships than real ones, Joss is an overall delightful film that becomes a gem, with stellar performances, a unique script, and stunning directorial choices that will leave you speechless.

An escape to a better world or a reflective film on our internal turmoil, Joss reveals some quirks of the human condition that we have yet to understand. Loneliness, perhaps one of the most universal of these feelings, pervades throughout the movie and through and through comes across as human sadness even when it is but a small facet of that sadness—a more muted and diluted facet, but nevertheless very much present. The film stands alone as a jarring reminder of the consolation that is found more frequently in the virtual realm than in person to person interaction.

What makes viewing Joss so enjoyable, however, is that, in essence, it focusses on an extension of feelings we’ve all had at some point and can well identify with. There’s a tenderness to the acknowledgment that we are all susceptible to loneliness, as in the words of Matthew Arnold …… “We mortal millions live alone” and occasionally we wish, “Oh! might our marges meet again.”


Moumita is a Kolkata based independent filmmaker and film critic. She holds a post- graduation degree in English literature from Jadavpur University. Reading novels of a wide range of authors of all genres from classic to contemporary has always been Moumita’s passion and calling. She also takes a strong liking in playing the Spanish guitar & has participated in quite a few concerts. Moumita has done her certification course in Cinematography, Video Editing and Filmmaking

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