I tend to appreciate documentaries or biopics that expand upon the conventions of their genre- a film like Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters layers its narrative with past and present details of its character, while simultaneously flooding the audience with images of the mind. Films like Exit Through the Gift Shop and Catfish call to question the reality of what is being documented, adding a level of staged dramatics to something that is already imminently entertaining. And with Zoo, Dover does an admirable job in both shielding the audience from a pervasive act while delving into their minds.
The film transcends typical documentary tropes through its extensive use of voice-over and rejection of sit-down interviews. Instead, Dover moves around the world that these people, perhaps characters, inhabit. He restages certain events – others are merely described. In essence the film depicts zoophiles as individuals who are attuned to the environment that their animals are a part of, while having a distancing relationship with the people around them.
Zoo’s lack of prose and inability to have an individual to connect (or reject) makes the film a noble failure. Without a protagonist or antagonist, the emotional ties attached to people are denied. Dover shoots areas in Washington with the utmost beauty, but it ultimately fails to elicit any sort of connection beyond superficial appreciation.