Wednesday, 4 August 2010


(Nicolas Philibert; France; 2010)

The entirety of this documentary exposes the heart of cinema, predicated upon looking, judging, and interposing one's own thoughts and ideas with that of the subject. For the whole film we see Nenette, and occasionally other orang-utans caged in the Menagerie at Paris's Jardin des Plantes, and never see the individuals who comment upon her. As we listen to the thoughts of people viewing Nenette, it becomes obvious that she is merely a mirror for these humans. In ascertaining what she is thinking and feeling, we reveal our own feelings and thoughts. The film is memorable for long lingering shots of Nenette, where her presence fills the entire screen, an overwhelming mass of orange hair and a dark circular rubbery face. Its in these moments where she almost seems to disappear, her presence consumed by the imposition of thoughts made on her behalf, but never hers. An ostensibly simple premise that reveals a richness of complexities about spectatorship, this was a graceful, lovely film.

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