Sunday, 1 November 2020

My Zoe

This was an unexpected delight and film of two halves. The first being a powerful drama about a couple who have separated but still share the care of their little girl. The girl gets sick and ends up in hospital where the couple have to spend time together doing what they can to help her recover.

Sounds a bit dull so far, eh - but actually it's terrifically well produced and acted by the leads. Starring and directed by Julie Delpy (Three Colours: White, Before Sunrise, Sunset, Midnight, Europa Europa, Killing Zoe) as the woman and supported by Richard Armitage (The Hobbit, Hannibal [TV]). The pair of them have to deal with their dislike of the situation and each other but realising that they have to be there for their daughter, Zoe.

The whole range of emotions which you might expect for a pair in this situation are on display and they both play their part in making it convincing. One minute hurling insults at each other, the next demonstrating warmth, then togetherness but ultimate distance and rejection. The film is not so much about him in the end as her and focuses in the second half on the depth of a mother's love and connection with her child and what lengths she'll go to in order to not lose her girl.

It could easily have been a soppy film for the emotional, but it really isn't. The film is set slightly in the future and it turns out that the woman is a doctor with a scientific mind, working in a lab. Early in the film the depth of this is demonstrated as she talks openly with Zoe about The Big Bang and a scientific view of the universe.

The second half of the film moves somewhat into what science might be able to do in the very near future as she finds ways to keep her daughter close to her which traditional medicine is struggling to do. I'll say no more there as I wouldn't like to spoil things if you watch it, but for me, the strength of the film is certainly in that first half as the couple deal with their emotions in the hospital. It could easily have ended there providing a complete film in itself.

The film is excellently shot as well, making good use of silence rather than music to add tension and the severe editing seems to add a style which, if left alone, could have probably made the film twice as long. There are smaller roles for Gemma Arterton (Summerland) and Daniel Brühl (The Colony, The Zookeeper's Wife, Alone in Berlin) equally as telling, but in less quantity than the leads. Recommended very much even if only for Delpy and Armitage.

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