Sunday, April 22, 2018

“Zoe”– Movie Review


This weekend, I attended the Centerpiece screening at The Tribeca Film Festival, the World Premiere of the new science-fiction romance, “Zoe”, starring Ewan McGregor. 


In a futuristic company that specializes in human relationships, can a romance between two co-workers survive despite a revelation that disturbs them both?


In the not too distant future, a market has developed that is to help people with their romantic relationships.  A small start-up company known as Relationist has become one of the leaders in this field; they have perfected a technology that will determine whether or not a couple will be a good match.  While this has gained them some notoriety, what they are really working on is “synths” – synthetic forms of human beings.  Some would call them robots, but they are really the next generation.  These synths can do much more than merely walk your dog or landscape your yard:  they can be your life partner. 

The founder of this company is Cole (McGregor), a brilliant but lonely man who buries himself in his work in order to forget about his failed marriage.  Overseeing the manufacture of the synths is Zoe (Léa Seydoux), who secretly harbors romantic feelings for Cole, which she is reluctant to express.  Together, they work to create what they hope will be the next generation of synths, which is one they call Ash (Theo James).  Once he is brought online, Ash is brought to socialization, which includes education of qualities that will make him more human-like. 

Despite the fact that Ash develops an attraction for Zoe, she spurns him because Cole is the object of her desire.  Unable to contain her feelings any longer, Zoe and Cole embark on a romance – but it turns out to be ill-fated once Zoe learns from Cole that she is one of his synth creations.  After an accident which results in Zoe being taken offline temporarily, Cole decides he must end the relationship.  Distraught, Zoe delves into the black market of synths where she seeks to be taken offline permanently.  But when Cole finds out about this, can he stop Zoe before it’s too late?   


If you are a fan of the genre of films popularly known as mumblecore, then there’s a good chance that you might like “Zoe”.  Having said that, however, it should also be noted that “Zoe” is a decent science fiction drama that, while presenting a dystopian future, also provides a glimmer of hope for that very same future.  While it may be seen that “Zoe” is a story about robots, it is, in fact, more of a story about humans and what makes our relationships imperfect and fallible.  Like any good science fiction, it is less about the futuristic gadgets and more an introspection of who we as human beings are right now.

Although the film is of a reasonable length, at times it feels as though it’s dragging; this may be attributable to its slow pace.  It’s a science fiction movie, but there aren’t any sequences that contain “action”, mainly because it’s more of a psychological story.  This isn’t a criticism so much as an observation.  Viewers should be aware that this is not going to be like a Star Wars type of experience; it’s much more low-key than that and if you are looking for chase scenes or shoot-em-ups, then you would be advised to search elsewhere.  “Zoe” is an enjoyable – but at times languid – motion picture.       

Following the screening was a question and answer session with the director and cast.  Doremus said that he has a strong connection to the theme of love; he feels it is a constant longing and this film asks the question, “What do we need in order to fulfill ourselves?”.  “Zoe” focuses on the less evolved synths versus the more evolved synths.  He said that he encouraged much improvisation during the filming.  His choice of many close-ups in the movie was due to the fact that he felt there was so much intimacy in the story, he wanted the audience to feel as though we almost shouldn’t be watching this.  

Zoe (2018) on IMDb

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