directed by Ivan I. Tverdovskiy

starring Natalya Pavlenkova, Dmitriy Groshev, Masha Tokareva

Arrow/ MVD

Natasha (Pavlenkova) works in a small zoo somewhere on the Russian coast. Her coworkers pick on her, her personal life is barren, and her superstitious mother doesn’t help. But one day she discovers she has a tail, and goes to the doctor to have it looked at. It’s a rather fine tail; stout and tapering nicely and she finds a way to tuck it in her underwear. Her doctor only wants to see X-rays, so she keeps meeting the young X-ray technician Peter (Groshev). A friendship blooms and soon they are lovers. But on the down side, there are rumors of her tail circulating at her work and already an outcast, things only go downhill. The superstitious neighbors feel she’s a demon, and the priest refuses her communion. It’s a mixed blessing.

Zoology takes its time revealing facts, and that keeps the whole tail thing plausible. It’s paced the way I always sense European films should be paced: we aren’t heading towards a space battle or a meteor strike, just a small version of a lonely person’s life. This lonely woman must reconsider her life, and that leads to positive change even at the cost of her job. No one overacts, nothing unreasonable appears beyond the tail, and we not only see a slice of modern Russian rural life, but we see prejudices and bias that infuse all societies. Buildings are old, but sound, procedures and rules are followed because that’s what they do here, and the sky seems always gray and about to rain or snow. As always Russia remains no matter who runs it. You want Natashia’s romance to work, you want Natasha to bloom, and you wonder: how can she work a desk job with that thing in her panties?


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