There are very few films that will perturb you as poignantly as Zoology. Writer and director Ivan I. Tverdovskiy doesn’t allow the viewer to wait long before throwing you into a midst of lurid chaos as he introduces Natalya Pavlenkova‘s Natasha; a devastatingly isolated zoo administrator who becomes burdened by an unexplained presence of a tail and throughout the film, she provides a remarkable portrayal of destitution within her bleakly cold existence.
Zoology is a far cry from Hollywood glamour with the director’s unequivocal taste for grotesque satire. Hard-faced Russian actresses dominate the screen in a plot riddled with gut wrenching melancholy as Natasha embarks on her adventure of personal growth leading to her sexual awakening and, indeed, the becoming of Natasha is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever harboured alienating insecurity.
During her gruelling medical journey, she encounters Peter (Dmitriy Groshev), a man who seems to remarkably overlook her disfigurement. With his kindness, affection, and passion he attempts to help Natasha to end the oppression she endures through her stagnantly painful life, in which she is surrounded by people void of empathy and any other human emotion for that matter. Armed with Peter’s dysfunctional passion, she is able to contend with the workplace oppression, her overbearing mother and the stigma that starts to dominate her world. She is persecuted by her faith, and by the brutality of the rumours that begin to plague the austere town in which she resides.
As the film concludes you can’t help but pray for Natasha’s contentment in a thoroughly heart-wrenching and anxiety-invoking sequence as you realise that Peter’s affection is nothing more than a perversion over her appendage.
Tverdovskiy has created a gem of a body horror that is sure to resonate in the hearts of every misfit, and Zoology is thoroughly deserving of a 5-star review for its tragic portrait of misery instilled with compelling imagery.