The star of French documentary "Nenette" evokes a lot of emotion without saying a word. It's all in the eyes. They've seen a lot over the years, most of it from the same vantage point.

The star of French documentary "Nenette" evokes a lot of emotion without saying a word. It's all in the eyes. They've seen a lot over the years, most of it from the same vantage point.

Nenette is an orangutan. She lives in the oldest zoo in Paris and has for most of her unusually long life - 40 years. French documentarian Nicolas Philibert has created an amazing and minimalist portrait into her world.

Philibert's camera rests exclusively on Nenette and her fellow apes for the length of the film (just more than an hour), always from outside the glass cage. Visitors and zookeepers are heard (in French with subtitles) in echoing, ambient sound, seen only occasionally in reflections on the glass.

The result will be meditative for some and deadly dull for others. I found it oddly enthralling.

We have a tendency to project human emotions on animals, but it's easier with primates; it's sort of like looking in an evolutionary mirror.

That sort of projection makes this film endlessly fascinating. Animal-rights types will likely see it as an indictment on keeping animals in captivity, but I'm not so sure that's the intent.

Instead it's a thoughtful and melancholy depiction of a character that we somehow relate to without ever really understanding.