My Zoe Movie Review: Emotional At Heart
Movie Reviews

My Zoe Movie Review: Emotional At Heart

My Zoe starring Julie Delpy and Richard Armitage is an emotional movie at heart. Read the full review below

  • Movie Name My Zoe
  • Director Julie Delpy,
  • Actor Julie Delpy, Sophia Ally, Richard Armitage
  • Rating
  • Rating 3/5 Stars

My Zoe, a moving study of bereavement and redemption, suffers from and somehow survives, a split-personality disorder. It is two films trying to masquerade as one, and succeeding in fooling us some of the time.

Clueless as to why Ms Julie Delpy (whose earlier accomplishments an actor, writer and director include the engaging Lolo) has chosen this dichotomous destiny for her moving drama, I can only recommend one-half of the film and leave the second-half hovering uneasily in the distance, like a young underage guest waiting for entry at a  club teeming with intense adults.

To begin with, My Zoe, set in a subtly futuristic Berlin, is about a single working mother Isabelle (Julie Delpy) who specializes in genetic. Isabelle and her British husband James (Richard Armitage bringing vigour to a thankless role) are constantly fighting over who gets to be with their only daughter Zoe, until there comes a time when neither gets to spend any time with adorable little Zoe.

The scenes in the hospital are to die for. Pun intended. Ms Delpy and Mr Armitage pour their most precious interpretation of collective grief into scenes where we can see them reining-in their characters’ mutual hostility, like the one factor that binds them slips away from their hands. Losing a child is not an easy situation to show. Delpy’s direction delves into the unimaginable grief of the parents without plunging into excessive dramatics.

The theme of an estranged couple getting together to mourn for a child’s death reminded me of Mahesh Bhatt’s Kaash. Not that I am suggesting any copyright infringement. What’s more, the couple here can’t see eye to eye. Though their eyes are flooded with collective tears, they are still shown in violent fights staged in a soundless cubicle in the hospital lobby almost like a muted wrestling ring.
Julie Delpy plays Isabelle as a somewhat cold self-serving mother who has an immigrant lover (played by Saleh Bakri) waiting in the sidelines even as she mourns her daughter’s loss. Unnecessarily, Isabelle’s mother shows up at the hospital for a brief scene that adds nothing to what is an over-wrought highly emotional first-half.

Then comes the film’s mid-life crisis. Isabelle secretly collects her dying child’s tissue samples and flies off to Moscow to get her daughter cloned. Yes, this is where the plot takes us! Speaking of a derailment, this is a major catastrophe inflicted upon the plot that reduces the parent’s bereavement to a cruel joke.

In Moscow Isabelle convinces a doctor (Daniel Bruhl) to clone her daughter…yes, we are still talking about the same film! Except for the very tender and heartwarming closing sequence, the second-half seems to belong to another planet where the most unconvincing drama unfolds. While the good doctor struggles to keep his equilibrium, the film nearly topples over the edge under the weight of the growing absurdity.

The gifted Gemma Arterton makes an appearance as the doctor’s bewildered wife. Every clueless expression of hers expresses what we feel: what happened here? The fatally ill-conceived swerve at the midpoint notwithstanding My Zoe has plenty of emotional meat and dramatic tension at its heart. These will probably help you overcome your queasiness about the narrative’s self-destructive pilgrimage though a better idea would be to watch only the first 70 minutes of the film.

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