ZOO: Where the Wild Things Are

Set in Chile, Rodrigo Marin’s “Zoo” captures the essence of what is most possibly wrong with American youth, when three “modern” teenagers struggle with school, peer pressure and sexualization.

Words: Marjua Estevez
Images Courtesy of: Festival Scope

We’ve all been there, trapped in the dreadful, lackluster days of adolescence, full of melancholy and endless queries about our futures. It’s a transitional phase that everyone must pass through, a struggle of youth that comes immersed within a kaleidoscope of both mental challenges and physical surprises. All of which are brought upon us to force us to delve deeper into ourselves to get to know who we really are. And though the end often seems much closer than any positive possibility (real or imagined) in those formative years, the world never ends. It just continues and sometimes in ways that one could never put into words. Zoo (Zoológico) director Rodrigo Marin certainly explores this shared notion in his latest tale, a skater and a future journalist turn into bitter and ungrateful savages as they accept fate as it comes.

Camilo, Aníbal and Belé are 11th graders in a high school (or as divided in Chilean education, secondary school/level three) set in the prosperous sector of Santiago de Chile. Having spent years living in the States, Camilo tries to cope within his new dynamic: his new family, tackling his distate for the new society and culture he’s been forced to reside in. Meanwhile, the very emo Aníbal, who has a passion for skateboarding becomes frustrated after learning that he’s failed his aptitude exams, while Belé—the main female character, chases her journalistic dreams by setting her sites on entering a television casting.

Nonetheless, the fellow schoolmates attend their last day of school before the winter break commences. Their professor opens a conversation asking the students about their futures, while urging them to create their strategic blueprint for those plans—a request that helps to unravel the lives of our three teens. While the movie depicts Camilo, Aníbal and Belé leading totally separate lives, never crossing each other’s paths outside of academia, all three weave a common thread, aside from the glaring onset of uncertain futures. It becomes obvious that what most links the trio (who couldn’t be anymore different) is that they each have been influenced by American culture in a way that is affecting their everyday worlds.

Though the movie finishes before their stories actually end, I would guess that Camilo, Belé and Aníbal go on to live the rest of their teenage years. Ironically, Zoo ends at the zoo; Camilo visits it the day he receives his new bike. The closing scene shows a polar bear lying on its stomach and gated by metal bars, in stark contrast to the seemingly liberated Camilo who has the option to walk away.

Zoo was recently unveiled at the Miami International Film Festival last month. If you’re in Utrecht, Holland, view Zoo at the Latin American Film Festival happening now through April 27th. For ticket pricing visit HERE.

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