Monday, November 27, 2017

Blu-ray/DVDebut for Ivan Tverdovskiy's strange/moving/funny Russian hit, ZOOLOGY

Featuring a dynamic, one-of-a-kind performance by an actress new to me -- Natalya Pavlenkova -- and a story that seems almost as fantastic as its story-telling style is documentary-like reality, ZOOLOGY should prove utter catnip for cinema buffs.

As written and directed by Ivan Tverdowskiy, the movie introduces us to a middle-aged woman who will almost immediately charm and delight us before eventually very nearly breaking our hearts.

Zoology works on a number of levels, but primarily, I believe, it's a look at the plight of the "outsider" in relationship to the society in which she lives -- in this case modern-day Russia. So, yes, as usual with Russian filmmakers, we're in the land of corruption, hypocrisy, and small-minded folk who use what power they have in ways that alternate between abuse and cowardice.

Yet here, the filmmaker (shown at right) does not hammer it all home with the force and repetition that we often see coming out of Russia.

Instead, he allows his heroine (Ms Pavlenkova, shown at right, above and below) and hero (Dmitriy Groshev, ar left, above and below) to charm us and each other into a world of their own making that, for a time, takes them out of the despair of daily life.

As usual with a good movie, the less you know about plot going in, the happier you'll be coming out, having experienced the surprises that the filmmaker hopes to bring you along with the fun and challenge of piecing the story together. The tale here has to do with an unusual addition to the usual human anatomy and what this does to and for our heroine, along with how it affects those around her.

One one level this is pure fantasy, yet it works rather deeply on other levels, too: psychological, social, sexual, emotional. And our two lead actors could hardly be better. Ms Pavlenkova is a revelation: sad, needy, charming, sexy, and yet almost always mysterious, while Mr. Groschev proves her match. Younger, yet clearly very attracted to this woman, the character has his own quirks and needs, yet does as much as he can to satisfy our leading lady's.

Along the way we get a good dose of the Russian workplace -- the city zoo (for her), the medical establishment for him -- and the scenes with the animals are as beautifully handled as those in the hospital/doctors' offices are sterile and unwelcoming. Religion, along with a self-help guru (below), get trashed along the way, as well.

In the end, we're left with our heroine, her plight and the direction she chooses to take -- which is, TrustMovies thinks, not at all the necessary or right one. And yet, you'll fully understand why she's choosing this, even if you wish it were otherwise. So much more could have been had by and for our twosome, if only they, particularly she, were able to stretch and embrace it.

But maybe this is also the point: Russia and its population -- along with those of so many other countries -- can not yet accept (nor even want) change or evolution. It's simply too scary, too different, too demanding. And so we do what we think we must. Sad.

From Arrow Films/Arrow Academy and running an exemplary 91 minutes, Zoology hit the street this past November 14 -- for purchase and, I hope, rental, on both Blu-ray and DVD. The Blu-ray also contains a  lovely and informative interview with actor Dmitriy Groschev that's very much worth viewing. The film's distributor in the USA is MVD Entertainment, and you can learn more information here

No comments: