A portrait of the artist as a pregnant teen, Micah Magee’s Petting Zoo is a sensitive study of a girl growing up and finding her way in Texas.
Lone Star Stateby Mark Wilshin
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
They say, when telling stories, write about what you know. And much like Trey Edward Shults’ story of family dysfunction Krisha, Micah Magee turns the camera on herself, telling her own story of an unwanted pregnancy that, at 17 and without her estranged parents’ consent for an abortion, seems likely to set the course of the rest of her life. Taking place in the Texas doldrums, Petting Zoo tells its story through its people and places, as Layla (Devon Keller) moves around the diners, roadhouses and parking lots of San Antonio from boyfriend Danny and friend Melanie to Uncle Doug, Grandma, new boyfriend Aaron and Aunt Jeanie. And with tender cinematography from Armin Dierolf as well as gentle, considered pacing, Petting Zoo charts Layla’s progress from chilling at Danny’s smoking den to the florals and laces of her grandmother’s house, until finally boarding a train for the bright lights of Austin and a new life at the University of Texas. With poetic imagery and a pervasive sense of profound but brave isolation, Micah Magee’s debut film makes a beautiful companion piece to Shults’ Krisha – low-key and intimate. And as a sensitive portrait of a pregnant teen, Petting Zoo is quietly haunting.
Petting Zoo is now available in the UK