No questions/No answers

Robinson Devor’s sort-of-documentary, “Zoo,” was chosen for the prestigious Director’s Fortnight slate at the Cannes Film Festival last year, but it received few theatrical engagements in this country after debuting to mixed reviews in Los Angeles and New York.
The film has been released on DVD by ThinkFilm and is now available through NetFlix.
I watched Devor’s movie the other night and I am still not quite sure what to make of it.
The non-fiction film is done in the self-consciously artistic, pseudo-documentary style pioneered by Errol Morris in films such as “The Thin Blue Line,” which mixed dramatic recreations with hypnotic music by Philip Glass.
Morris used music and fictional cinematic techniques to present the case of a Texas man who was falsely accused of murdering a cop. But,the art film style was combined with actual interviews in which people on both sides of the case had their say.
Devor’s film is ostensibly about the death of a Washington State Boeing executive named Kenneth Pinyan in 2005 after he took part in equine bestiality rituals with a group of people he had met on the Internet.
These “zoos” — they call themselves this because of their practice of zoophilia — claim they have a special affinity with animals that is about more than sex.
Devor and his co-writer Charles Mudede seem to be so afraid of the subject of their film that they spend the whole movie staging beautifully photographed sequences that evade rather than illuminate what happened in the countryside outside Seattle three years ago.
In the director’s commentary on the DVD, Devor brags about the fact that he never resorts to “talking head” footage, but after 15 or 20 minutes of his eerie shots of men gathering in an isolated farmhouse and proceeding to the barn, I began wondering if we would ever hear from one of Pinyan’s non-”zoo” friends or family members or a cop or even one of the politicians who pushed for successful anti-bestiality legislation in the wake of the widespread press coverage of this case.
“Zoo” asks no questions, so we never get any answers.
Devor’s film leaves the viewer with the impression that a straight-on examination of what motivated Pinyan to do what he did would be too pervy. Instead, we get a dreamy, creepy, pointless feature-length introduction to “shocking” material that is never explored.
I’m not suggesting that I would want to see or hear graphic descriptions of “zoo” behavior, but as a journalist I don’t really understand a non-fiction movie that skirts its own subject matter.