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Men love their horses a little too much in this Sundance documentary.

Before my review of Zoo, how about a quote from that great bard of our time, Janeane Garofalo, cooing into a mike in The Truth About Cats and Dogs: "You can love your pets...just don't love your pets." So wise, so prescient, so applicable to Zoo, a documentary about a secret society of Washington state men who, er, loved their horses in a way that Ms. Garofalo's character might not have approved of. Their weekend circuit was memorably exposed in 2005 when one of their members died from injuries occurred from a perforated colon, the result of a particularly vigorous (and unconventional) mounting. Headlines were made and talk radio had a field day, but the impulses that drove these men remained largely unexplored until now.

Part documentary, part reenactment, and part lucid dream, this film from director Robinson Devor (The Woman Chaser) is surprisingly artful and accessible. There are interviews from some of the men in question - self-described zoophiles, or "zoos" for short - in which patterns and understanding begin to emerge. Many have trouble connecting with people, or feel emotionally disengaged from civilization and society. Instead, these men prefer a return to nature, gathering (via the internet) in bucolic Edumclaw, Washington, a place with no laws against bestiality, a place where they can foster emotional and sexual attractions that simply don't exist for them in any other way.

Their equine impulses may be hard to relate to, but Devor's lush photography and hypnotic pace give the film the air of a tone poem, enhancing the men's dreamy, hard-to-articulate desire. There are a couple moments of silliness - if you're curious to hear a testimonial from the actor playing Cop #1 in the reenactments, then it's your lucky day - but on the whole, the film simply works. As one woman in the film says, after witnessing a sexually charged horse-on-horse moment - "I've never seen anything like that...ever." Neither will you.

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Kyle Buchanan