In her seventh feature film, director Julie Delpy combines a bitter divorce drama and a dark vision of the future. An exciting genre balancing act, which in the case of MY ZOE Unfortunately it doesn’t quite work. We reveal why in our review.
Dr. Fischer (Daniel Brühl) describes the difficult case to his wife (Gemma Arterton).
The plot summary
Geneticist Isabelle (Julie Delpy) is in the process of building a new life for herself after divorcing her husband. She has a new boyfriend and she also wants to revive her career. However, her ex-husband James (Richard Armitage) cannot accept this and is making her life difficult by fighting over custody of their daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally). But then a tragedy occurs that shakes the broken family to its core. Isabelle makes a decision and takes her fate into her own hands.
My Zoe Movie Meaning of ending
When two different genres collide in a film, things often get really interesting. In a hybrid of comedy and drama, you rely on completely opposite emotions. In the case of a horror comedy, the great art is not to drown out the horror with the humor. Sometimes two film genres simply complement each other very well, such as in the case of an action thriller. Director and actress Julie Delpy (“Before” series) is now also staging her seventh feature film directorial work as a genre mix – in this case the first half of “My Zoe” is a bitter family drama about two parents who are together after the divorce have to deal with the pitfalls of shared custody. After about half of the story, their completely down-to-earth story suddenly mutates into a sci-fi vision of the future, which doesn’t harmoniously add another level to the previous three quarters of an hour, but rather feels like an overly long and completely art- (or better: quixotic. Taken on their own, both halves are convincing. As a complete film, however, “My Zoe” falls completely between two stools and, in a condensed form, would at best pass as a passable “Black Mirror” episode.
James (Richard Armitage) and his beloved daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally).
In “My Zoe” Julie Delpy not only proves herself once again as a formidable actress, particularly convincing in the subtle interpersonal interaction with her film daughter Sophia Ally (“Edison – A Life Full of Light”) . As a director and screenwriter, she also demonstrates her very special powers of observation in staging the battle for the favor of their daughter, which has long since been sealed by the divorce and custody arrangements, but at the same time is always fought subliminally. Delpy and her film husband Richard Armitage (“Ocean’s 8”) have nothing in common other than concern for Zoe’s well-being. And yet both cannot resist making jibes at the other; Whether out of spite or helplessness – especially with James, there is always a hint of melancholy about the unpleasant separation – the film leaves you largely in the dark about that. And so “My Zoe”, especially in the first half, is a touching, authentic snapshot of two former lovers whose deep connection to each other only shines through in extreme situations and who are not above verbally attacking each other even in the death throes of their daughter to go at each other’s throats and blame each other. And Delpy also makes clear in some memorable moments the helplessness with which Isabelle’s new partner Akil (Saleh Bakri) is condemned to watch.
The fact that you can still sense the former love between the two ex-spouses from time to time is due to the nuanced acting of the two main actors, who are perfectly attuned to each other. Delpy and Armitage aren’t just convincing in their emotional extremes. Instead, it is primarily their almost intuitive interaction with each other that makes it clear how close the two once were to each other and how they still seem to predict the behavior of their counterparts. But even in their grand gestures, the two remain absolutely believable. The despair of impending death is written on their faces, as is the anger of injustice. The emotionally disturbing moments in the hospital waiting room are clearly the strongest in the entire film. Perhaps this is also why the constant dramaturgical and qualitative fall is felt all the more strongly from the moment of Zoe’s death, because for Delpy the real purpose of her film only seems to be heralded when the mother she embodies then tries to clone her own flesh and blood (!). In doing so, she opens up completely new moral dimensions for her film, but the new plot fits in absolutely inhomogeneously with everything that came before it.
It starts with the fact that it’s only about half way through the game that you even realize that the story doesn’t take place in the present, but in an unspecified future. Signs of this are primarily futuristic technology gadgets such as a foldable tablet computer or an even smarter further development of today’s smartwatches. There is undoubtedly a certain charm in this inaccurate positioning of history; Nevertheless, the jump from a calm family drama to a sci-fi crime thriller is so heavy-handed that you don’t get the feeling that you’re watching a self-contained story. The conflicts from the first half of “My Zoe” are concluded without comment with the death of the daughter. Richard Armitage even disappears from the plot entirely. Instead, we follow Delpy’s Isabelle as she talks to genetics doctor Dr. Fischer (Daniel Brühl in an overall rather pale performance), who confronts her with his moral concerns (so far he has only cloned animals but not people), but quickly forgets these doubts when his mother looks at him long enough with sad eyes . What follows would provide enough material for a lengthy two-and-a-half-hour film, but is presented here in fast motion; In these moments, genuine interest in the outcome of the story is completely lost. And although Delpy’s desperation and willingness to sacrifice for her dead daughter are written all over her face, from now on it is no longer possible to sympathize with her. “My Zoe” finally rushes towards its dubious end, past Gemma Arterton (“Your Finest Hour”) in a cameo that could have actually used a lot more attention. Like almost everything in the second half of “My Zoe”.
Conclusion: With “My Zoe,” auteur filmmaker Julie Delpy tells two stories in one – the harsh family drama about custody and new beginnings in the family is very successful, but the sci-fi crime thriller about the morality of cloning is not.
“My Zoe” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 14th.