Nenette is a venerable orangutan who lives in a Parisian zoo, where documentary maker Nicolas Philibert finds her presiding over the day to day happenings from behind the bars of her cage.
Accompanying images of the titular orang-utan in a Parisian enclosure with the musings of her unseen keepers and visitors, this is an audacious audiovisual experiment that seeks to explore both the value of zoos and film’s power to capture and preserve. Nicolas Philibert’s camera occasionally catches a look of world-weary melancholy in Nénette’s eye and it’s difficult not to pity a majestic creature that has endured captivity for 37 years. Yet she has exceeded her life expectancy and seems pretty content when feasting on favourite treats and frolicking with her son, Tubo. The onlookers express this dilemma with a mix of eloquence, sentiment and wit. Yet while this is educational, provocative and touching, it’s never wholly compelling.
A gently moving film that's always thought-provoking if at times a little slow going.
Reviewed by David Parkinson