Eye For Film >> Movies >> Zoom (2015) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Emma (Alison Pill) decorates realdolls for a living and moonlights as a comic book artist. She's creating a story about her ideal man, Edward (an animated Gael García Bernal), who is a film director trying to leave his action career behind him and create art. His film is about Michelle (Mariana Ximenes), a model turned novelist who is writing a book about Emma. These realities intersect in happy ignorance until, in a stroke of spite, Emma decides to drastically reduce he size of Edward's penis. A chain or events spirals outwards from this, threatening to destroy them all.
With competent actors and a strong, if not particularly original, central idea, Zoom has the chance to do great things, but it all falls rather flat as the need to interweave the three story strands interferes with their natural pacing. Pill is the strongest presence and is aided by a dramatic subplot about drug smuggling which, despite being clumsily handled towards the end, at least creates a sense of energy. There's also erotic humour to be found in her occupation, which is at its most effective when downplayed. A further plot strand about her getting breast enhancements struggles to sustain itself, but at least contributes something to the film's musing on the interaction of fantasy and reality; there is unexplored potential here.
By contrast, the film director strand is rather stilted, with Bernal never getting the chance to show what he's capable of. Humour based around the excesses of the film industry is over-familiar and not particularly well delivered. There's always interesting potential in sexual disappointment, but this is squandered by a failure to round out any of the characters other than Bernal's - something which might be a comment on the nature of Emma's fantasy but which nevertheless weakens the story.
The third strand, despite - of perhaps because of - its being more fragmented, achieves more than one might expect, elevated by Ximenes' dedicated performance, which brings depth to scenes which - once the film reaches the rewrite stage that's standard in industry pastiche - become more and more ludicrous. She, more than any of the others, creates the sense of a real person trapped in an increasingly ludicrous situation, at risk of losing her ability to believe in it. With each strand distinguished by visual style, this one gets the arty direction, to its benefit - the hazy, lingering shots of the Brazilian coast may be cliché but director Pedro Morelli handles them well.
Overall, this uneven comedy is neither as funny nor as erotic as it wants to be but has enough going on to distract from the developing meta-plot and let it come to fruition at the proper time, with sly yet affectionate observation of each medium and the creative relationships between them. It's a change from the standard fare and worthy of some interest, but there's a sense of insecurity about it, like a bullied child making weak jokes in an attempt to win friends. A bold story like this needs to be delivered with confidence. Zoom falls short of the mark.Reviewed on: 29 Aug 2016