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A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  25 May 1990 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 4,451 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 34 critic

Oliver Deuce, a successful doctor, is shattered when his wife is killed in a freak car accident involving the car being driven by Alba Bewick colliding with a very large rare bird. His twin... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Andréa Ferréol ...
Brian Deacon ...
Eric Deacon ...
...
Venus de Milo
...
Van Hoyten
Jim Davidson ...
Joshua Plate
Agnès Brulet ...
Beta Bewick
Guusje van Tilborgh ...
Caterina Bolnes
Gerard Thoolen ...
Van Meegeren
Ken Campbell ...
Stephen Pipe
Wolf Kahler ...
Felipe Arc-en-Ciel
...
Fallast
...
Documentary Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

Oliver Deuce, a successful doctor, is shattered when his wife is killed in a freak car accident involving the car being driven by Alba Bewick colliding with a very large rare bird. His twin brother Oswald is researching how carcasses decay at the local zoo. Alba survives the accident although she loses one leg, and her sinister physician eventually removes the other 'because it looked so sad all alone'. Oswald and Oliver become involved in a menage a trois with Alba, and uncover very dubious trafficking in zoo property. But ultimately their only goal is to try and understand their mortal condition. Written by Dan Ellis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

grief | decay | twin | leg | animal | See All (140) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

25 May 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Zoo  »

Company Credits

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Early in the movie, we are shown a front-page newspaper article about the deaths of the protagonists' wives. This front page also contains sidebar articles detailing events from two of director Peter Greenaway's subsequent films, The Belly of an Architect (1987) (the article headlined "Architect Dies") and Drowning by Numbers (1988) (the article headlined "A Hot Bath Heart Attack"). See more »

Quotes

Oliver Deuce: Pregnant women are notoriously unreliable. Especially when they're trying to procure an abortion.
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Soundtracks

The Teddy Bear's Picnic
Music by John W. Bratton
Lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy
Performed by The BBC Dance Orchestra
Directed by Henry Hall
Courtesy of EMI MUSIC PUBLISHING LTD and EMI RECORDS LTD
Also sung by Venus De Milo (Frances Barber)
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User Reviews

 
Chaotic in a profound way.
10 July 2013 | by (Suffolk, England) – See all my reviews

Having seen Peter Greenaway's The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, I knew I was in for an intense sensual experience with crude symbolism and even cruder people. A Zed & Two Noughts is a film about symmetry, about its dependence and complimentary tendencies, accidental/natural or intentional/forced. The twins become obsessed with the search of purpose in randomness and therefore especially the meaning for coincidence and symmetry. Although they come up empty handed, there are some profound ideas in there, with nine months for a baby to be born and then nine months for a body to decay. The arresting visuals reflect the use of symmetry with elaborate sets designed as reflections. It has a David Lean level of lushness as the cameras glide through the elegantly coloured sets, as well as featuring time lapses of decaying food and animals, closeups of painting and nature documentary footage, narrated by David Attenborough.

Although it has shocking drama and daring tragedy (a woman voluntarily having a second leg amputated then regretting it, a dalmatian shown rotting) it does have a key sense of humour that keeps it from being dreary. It mostly comes from Greenaway's obsession with obscenities clashing within upper class etiquette, particularly with sex, which gives the film more shock value though is never vulgar for the sake of vulgarity. It has an incredibly haunting score by Michael Nyman, who also did the one for The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, and this one may be even more intense due to the films freakish nature. Of which the script is full of twists of turns of phrases and wordplay to apply to the bizarre scenarios in the film, which isn't always as intelligent as it appears to be. The film has a bad habit of relying on characterisations rather than characters, and it took far too long for its protagonists and primary supporting characters to be fully fleshed out and developed beyond caricatures. It's main downfall is it's far too urgent. Scenes are rushed and sequences hurried with barely any scenes properly savoured enough to soak in the flavour of the film. It gives the film a vignette feel which I didn't think the film needed and a resolution without real closure. Though I guess this exactly fits into its theme of chaos and the meaning of it all.

8/10


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