Review of the Film “Zoi”
The first thing that catches the eye in the film “Zoi” is that it is filmed in a horizontal frame. The frame is vertical, using the conventional camera of a mobile phone, and it is static. This is where Zoi's difference begins. Since the type of frame always determines how we see things, and since the aesthetics of a filmmaker are always determined by the type of frame, and there is a direct relationship between the size of the frame and the structure of the work, it can be understood that changing the frame of any work is equivalent to completely changing its visual structure. In a frame known as Academy, with an aspect ratio of 1.375:1, the left and right boundaries of the frame determine what elements can find their way into the frame and what elements must be left out. In widescreen frames like 2.35:1, filmmakers can easily use the wide spaces on the left and right. Zoey uses an aspect ratio of 9:16, which is the same size as Instagram stories. Choosing this aspect ratio is interesting in that it refers to the viewer's experience of Instagram stories. This reference initially makes us see this film as one of the short trips on Instagram. But gradually we realize that this is only a deceptive similarity, and that the film actually uses this frame to create its own aesthetics.
The movie begins with scenes that evoke a sense of travel. A fleeting moment on a train where we see passing landscapes through a window, then arriving at a destination and exploring it, a view of the beach and the old buildings, a church, and so on. In the meantime, the filmmaker introduces us to her protagonist. At first, we think that the woman passing through the image is one of the passers-by whom the filmmaker happened to see in the city she traveled to, but then we realize that this could be the main character of the movie because she suddenly stops on the path she is taking. The next scene where the woman's feet are on the beach confirms that in this work, the main character and the concept of travel are intertwined. The journey that the film begins with is woven into the fabric of the work, and Zoey is supposed to explore herself in the heart of this journey. What director Zoey Kriegmont shows us is the solitude and loneliness of a woman who, as much as she discovers nature, buildings, and the city, is also supposed to rediscover herself. Without dialogue or monologue, we see Zoey lying down in her bed with the help of magical power of images. These short shots show us the confusion and disorientation of the main character. The fact that the filmmaker can successfully convey this sense of disorientation and at the same time the pleasure of getting lost in a foreign land with the help of music, careful editing, and her own presence means that she knows the language of cinema.
Although Zoi was entirely shot with an iPhone 13 and we can see that no cinematographic techniques were used except for black and white filters, it introduces us to the environment and character very well. There is no dialogue, but we understand the issue of the main character, and we move freely with her on this journey. The feeling of loneliness and wandering of the character is not unrelated to her own isolation and the stillness and silence of the city. In the scenes that the filmmaker shows us, such as an old man who slowly turns his back to us or a basket hanging from a building with a rope and coming down, we feel that it is almost a mixture of all travelers' feelings, seeing various aspects of a place during their stay. Our feelings about places and cities are a mixture of excitement and surprise, joy and boredom, repetition and novelty. Somewhere during a journey, especially when arriving in a city, our eyes are looking for its beauties, we get excited, and at every step, our eyes are looking for what will intensify this excitement. After a while, and especially after a day of staying (as we see in the film), we also see less interesting angles of the city. The movie conveys this complex feeling and often hidden thought of travelers in the language of images.
The film is divided into two parts. The first part introduces the city, environment, and characters, and conveys a dual feeling of confusion and disorientation. The second part begins with Zoey going to a painting studio. The studio is located in an apparently old house, and many paintings are hung on the walls. We find out that Zoey is supposed to be the model for a painting. This choice practically drives the movie in a new direction that was not initially anticipated. If you thought this was a simple film about travel or even a travelogue, you realize with this change and twist that your assumption was wrong. Zoey's modeling should be seen in the context of her initial disorientation, the first night's restlessness in the city. By modeling, Zoey stands naked in front of the painter, practically trying to break out of that initial shell and start a journey towards herself. It is commendable how the filmmaker transforms a journey to a city into a journey towards oneself. Standing naked in front of the painter is like Zoey recognizing herself again. It's like she's supposed to discover herself like a city by seeing herself in the eyes of a painter or, one could say, by seeing herself in the mirror of art. The smile on her face, standing on the threshold of the window, is significant. Compare this smile to her depressed expression in the hotel on the first night of arriving in the city. As the painter gets to work, a new Zoey takes shape on the canvas before our eyes. A new Zoey is born. This birth is the greatest achievement of Zoey Kriegmont in this short film. The end of the movie completes the meaning of the journey as we see Zoey looking at her reflection in the glass on the terrace and when we see her in the train leaving the city with her reflection in the window glass facing us. The cycle of the journey is complete. The journey is not just a geographical acquaintance but also self-discovery.