Natalya Pavlenkova, Dmitriy Groshev, Irina Chipizhenko, Masha Tokareva, and Zhanetta Demikhova. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
Ivan I. Tverdovsky MPAA RATING
NR RUNNING TIME
91 Mins. DISTRIBUTED BY
Arrow Films OFFICIAL WEBSITE
It's so easy to get used to the Arrow Films devotion to re-packaging some of cinema's greatest classics that one forgets their devotion to showcasing contemporary cinema. Such is the case with Zoology, an under-appreciated gem out of Russia in 2016 that was written and directed by Ivan I. Tverdovskiy about a middle-aged zoo worker named Natasha (Natalya Pavlenkova) who still lives with her mother in a small coastal town. She is a woman who is seemingly stuck in her life, at least until one day when she grows a tail and turns her life around.
There are metaphors galore to be found in Zoology, though some of them would seemingly conflict and they're difficult to discuss at length without giving away much of what makes this film a special delight. Pavlenkova's performance is, when it comes down to it, much of what makes the film that delight - she infuses Natasha with a free-spirited charisma that stands out amongst many of the characters who surround her. She is, in fact, for a rather timid woman also a woman who seems to endure the wrath of everyone around her for no apparent reason at all other than being an easy target even before her new appendage appears. The film also explores a budding romantic relationship that develops between Natasha and Peter (Dmitriy Groshev), a radiologist tasked with trying to more properly research her unique dilemma but who, instead, seems to possess a rather unhealthy attraction to it.
Zoology is an unusual film that enjoyed quite the successful festival run, though it never really blossomed once awards season came around. I suppose that's not entirely surprising given the film's unique subject matter and the multiple layers played out in the film that aren't easily explained. However, for fans of unique cinema, especially Russian cinema, this is a little gem that is worth your time.