You haven’t seen everything until you’ve seen a tiny lady stuffing dime bags into a RealDoll. This is Zoom, Canadian screenwriter Matt Hansen’s absurdist narrative ouroboros. Three protagonists write three fictional stories that, unbeknownst to them, are interdependent: they are writing each others’ lives.
A-cup Emma (Alison Pill, delightful in the role) longs for the voluptuous body of the sex dolls she helps design, so she draws a comic about the dream man such a woman might date: handsome Hollywood director Edward (Gael Garcia Bernal). Edward, shot in comic-book rotoscope, is an action director turned would-be auteur making an arty film about budding writer Michelle (Maria Ximenes). Michelle leaves her modelling career (and her jerk boyfriend) to write a novel so she’ll be more than just a beauty. That novel is the story of Emma.
Director Pedro Morelli uses colour filters and lighting to spotlight emotional parallels between characters. Each story begins with a particular aesthetic. Mid-film, one of Michelle’s scenes is filmed with Emma’s characteristic green filter to highlight an anxiety they share: the uncomfortable overlap between physical beauty and perceived value. Zoom doesn’t stick the landing, but the film as a whole is worth more than its limp ending. Well-acted, well-written, and engaging throughout, Zoom is entertaining and thought-provoking. That’s more than enough.
This review was originally published on Sept. 12 2015 as part of our TIFF 2015 coverage. It has been republished for its Canadian theatrical release.