Fantastic Fest 2015: “Zoom” provides mixed media with a message

Gael Garcia Bernal in "Zoom"

Gael Garcia Bernal in “Zoom”

One of the greatest things about attending Fantastic Fest each year is that it reminds you that you haven’t seen it all before. This is a festival where creativity is championed in a major way and the very notion of what a genre film is can often be challenged.

A Canadian and Brazilian co-production directed by Pedro Morelli, “Zoom” is a fresh and truly original tale that examines complex issues of body image and vanity in a lighthearted way. It takes some time to figure out what direction the movie is going in.

Emma (Alison Pill,”The Newsroom,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) works in a sex toy factory, spending her days delicately painting the bodies of realistic looking “love dolls” that are custom made for clients. Surrounded by amply proportioned female dolls, she yearns for her own breasts to be larger. Emma sees a plastic surgeon only to discover after the surgery that the grass is not always greener on the other side.

When she’s not at work, Emma is illustrating her own graphic novel – the story of a well-endowed film director (Gael García Bernal, who only appears on screen animated) who is fighting with a Hollywood executive over the ending of his latest movie. Michelle, the lead character in his film (played by Mariana Ximenes), is a Brazilian model who is longing to be a writer, but is fighting against the misconception that she’s only a pretty face. 

All of these characters find their stories folding into one another in a way that an audience member during the Q&A described as “breaking the fourth wall, by three.” Screenwriter Matt Hansen somehow manages to juggle the multi-dimensional stories and merges them into a hysterical voyage that reminds us all that karma is a real bitch.

Approximately 30 minutes of “Zoom” are presented in animated form, with over 20,000 frames from filmed scenes that were rotoscoped in a similar fashion to Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life.” The whole kit and caboodle is brilliantly scored by Kid Koala, whose compositions become a large part of pushing the narrative along.

Delightfully raunchy and surprisingly sweet, “Zoom” will hopefully find an audience beyond the festival circuit.

“Zoom” screens again at 2:15 p.m. Monday. 

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