Jupiter’s Wife

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Jupiter’s Wife may be the most extraordinary film you’ll see this year. This very personal documentary begins with a chance encounter in New York’s Central Park between VHS-packing filmmaker Michel Negroponte and Maggie Cogan, a forty-year-old homeless woman whose poise and resilience are matched by her intelligence and gentle humor. Or is it chance? Maggie claims she has been expecting him since she has ESP.

She also claims to be the wife of the god Jupiter and the daughter of the late hollywood actor Robert Ryan. Her conversation is laced with psychic messages received through the radio, bits of Greek mythology, and other seemingly bizarre fictions, or, as she puts it, “all the cosmic gizmos that are directing traffic on planet Earth.”

Negroponte visits Maggie regularly over the next two years, through the severest winter in decades, as she roams with her many dogs the 843 sacred acres of Central Park, patiently determined to piece together the riddle of who she is and how she came to her misfortune. The more cryptic her remarks, the more the filmmaker strains to decipher them. Slowly the filmmaker enters the secret world of her complicated
cosmology. Her mythology is her self-portrait, framed in a timeless drama which allows her to deal with her past. Her psychic acrobatics gain your respect. In the end, she emerges as the victim and heroine of her own dense plot.

What makes this film such an unforgettable journey are the incredible dramatic payoffs. It is full of eerie connections and astounding revelations that make it more riveting than any fiction. Elegantly photographed and hauntingly scored, Jupiter’s Wife is a mystery lovingly revealed, a poetic, hopeful, and deeply moving film.

— Lawrence Smith

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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