One of the problems that comes from being a hardcore fan of films is that most of your time is spent trying to enjoy your passion despite the shackles of a medium that is plagued with repetition and paint-by-numbers efforts. If you see more than a dozen movies a year, it isn’t long before you’re trapped in the tedium of not simply knowing that the good guys are probably going to win, but who is going to turn out to be the double-crosser as soon as you see them, why and when the rom-com couple are going to have their second act “distancing” they have to overcome, and on and on.
This is why certain writers and directors can get a jump on popularity just off the back of putting something out that makes you sit up and notice that you have no idea what’s going to happen. When a film, for example, is about literally being John Malkovich, you can’t know where that’s headed.
Zoom is such a film, and though all the pieces don’t quite come together, it’s hard not to appreciate the ride.
Several stories collide in this unapologetic exploration of our societal consciousness. Emma (Alison Pill – The Family, The Newsroom) works in a factory that produces sex dolls, but fancies herself more of an artist, and is working on a graphic novel. Emma works with her boyfriend, Bob (Tyler Labine – Deadbeat), and apart from the odd…, well, occasional, special order, their lives are rather ordinary. But, Emma’s graphic novel has her evaluating the size of her chest, and her thoughts in relation to societal sexiness standards, etc., etc. This leads to surgery, but Emma ends up with what you might call an overcorrection.
Meanwhile, our second story finds Edward (Gael García Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle) struggling to get his latest film made. He’s a star director of Hollywood blockbusters, but he has a very “artsy” script he wants to make now. His problem is that the studio isn’t very interested, and he’s used to solving such roadblocks by way of his well-known… endowment. That wouldn’t be a problem, except that in a fit of irritation aimed at men in general, Emma erased his penis.
The third story revolves around a supermodel who is trying to write a novel, and the obvious problems this creates, mainly by way of society, and her husband (Jason Priestley), not believing that a supermodel can write anything worth reading. This story is complicated by her running away to try to finish her work, and the helicopters and cliche plotlines involving her husband “saving her” from trying to do something so foolish that the studio keeps trying to rewrite into the script. Because, yes, this story is the film Edward is trying to get made.
The movie is filled with plenty of other twists as each “creator” runs into difficulties which throw all the stories into new levels of chaos.
The progression is often hilarious, and always entertaining, even if it is often only by way of the pure bliss of feeling lost. Unfortunately, this perhaps leads to the overall film feeling unsure of just how hyperbolic it wants to be in its assault on the ludicrous driving forces behind so much of our lives. It might have been better in the end if it was a little more, or a little less, but it is at least infused with as much comedy and humility as it is overreaching and suffering from a slight case of self-importance.
In the end, it’s a film that likes juxtaposition, but thinks it has a better idea, and it is one that hopes to skewer the very notion of cultural norms and attitudes, not least simply by suggesting that there is no top level.
ZOOM is a fast-paced, pop-art inspired, multi-plot contemporary comedy. The film consists of three seemingly separate but ultimately interlinked storylines about a comic book artist, a novelist, and a film director. Each character lives in a separate world but authors a story about the life of another.
The comic book artist, Emma, works by day at an artificial love doll factory, and is hoping to undergo a secret cosmetic procedure. Emma’s comic tells the story of Edward, a cocky film director with a debilitating secret about his anatomy. The director, Edward, creates a film that features Michelle, an aspiring novelist who escapes to Brazil and abandons her former life as a model. Michelle, pens a novel that tells the tale of Emma, who works at an artificial love doll factory… And so it goes…