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United Kingdom 1985
Directed by
Peter Greenaway
112 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Zed And Two Noughts, A

Audiences tend to either love Peter Greenaway's contrivances or find them meretricious and self-indulgent. I initially appreciate the contrivance but in balance tend towards the latter judgement. A Zed and Two Noughts is no exception and with its preoccupation with death and decay, cameo’d in time-lapse phoography of decomposing fruit and animals is, even for Greenaway, unusually trying.

The story, which would make a nice double with Cronenberg’s Crash (1996) involves a doctor, Oswald (Brian Deacon) whose wife dies in a freak car crash in front of a zoo, his twin brother, Oscar (Eric Deacon), and their “relationship” with the driver of the car, Alba Bewick (Andréa Ferréol). The narrative meanders over a lot of other things but that is the gist of it.

Taking some of the elements from his first and best film, The Draughtsman's Contract (1982), notably the Baroque love of symmetry and counterpoint, and refining them into a manner that would be his calling card for many more films to come we are treated to Greenway’s love of visual and conceptual artifice. Aided and abetted by Sacha Vierny’s photography and Michael Nyman's score, the film is a post-modern aesthete’s delight. The trouble is that this intellectual flourish can only sustain for about half the running time before the conceits both visual and verbal start to repeat themselves. This, combined with the slightly creepy preoccupation with death and amputation means that, A Zed and Two Noughts is, for all for all its cleverness, an experience not over soon enough

DVD Extras: Director’s commentary and introduction; Behind-the-scenes footage; Theatrical trailers.

Available in Umbrella Entertainment’s 8 disc box set that also includes A Draughtman’s Contract, Drowning By Numbers, Prospero’s  Books, The Baby Of Mâcon, The Pillow Book, 8 ½ Women and a 1992 documentary on the director and his work.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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