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  My Zoe Revival Meeting
Year: 2019
Director: Julie Delpy
Stars: Julie Delpy, Richard Armitage, Daniel Brühl, Gemma Arterton, Lindsay Duncan, Saleh Bakri, Jordis Triebel, Tijan Marei, Sophia Ally, Carolina Vera, Vladimir Burlakov, Nina Kunzendorf, Luise Helm, Lucas Prisor, Corinna Kirchhoff, Julia Effertz, Kerem Can
Genre: Drama, Science FictionBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: It is the near-future and Isabelle (Julie Delpy) is a single mother who must negotiate her way around a job as a research scientist and seeing her daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally), who stays with her usually but also with her father James (Richard Armitage) who stretches and tests the rules of their custody arrangements regularly. Even now he is hassling Isabelle about her treatment of the little girl, and trying to gain the upper hand over her as a review is coming up, harbouring a grudge that her keenness to return to work six months after giving birth was what broke up their marriage, but for Isabelle she needed that job to keep her sane, and she is not going to let go of it now, just as she is never going to let go of Zoe - or so she believes.

Julie Delpy may have been making a very grim joke in writing, directing, producing and starring in a movie whose title may lead you to expect a confessional documentary about her experiences making Killing Zoe, one of the nineteen-nineties movies that allowed her to become a star back then, and subsequently offered her the path to direction herself. But she did not play Zoe here, and she did not get killed, though a clue to what was going to happen was very much in Delpy's filmography; her charming 2 Days in Paris and 2 Days in New York comedies had indicated a grand new directorial talent was on the scene, just the tonic for a film community seeking more prominent female directors. Yet this misbegotten exercise appeared to indicate those hopes were premature.

It's difficult to explain what goes so wrong with My Zoe without blowing the big twist that plunges it into medical science fiction territory, sort of Robin Cook without the thriller element, though you start to wonder a quarter of the way in whether Delpy was going to be foolhardy enough to take it to this destination. Before that, we had been given a wordy, oddly stilted relationship drama where Isabelle's Muslim boyfriend appears to be there to make James look a little racist in his umbrage with him, yet was supplied with zero personality otherwise: not a good sign, but not something that would necessarily derail the entire story. The ex-husband has a little sympathy bunted his way, especially when tragedy looms, but in the main we could perceive he was far too self-centred to enjoy a prosperous relationship with Isabelle, who needs some space to breathe in that arrangement.

Fine, we had a soap opera-ish plot here, especially when Zoe sets about meeting some peril that was about as button-pushing for parents of young children as it could get, but nothing it couldn't get over, despite that contrived acting style that did not quite convince in a true Europudding fashion you might have hoped had been left behind in the nineties. But Delpy was not finished. If you were wondering why the movie was set in the near future when it was only lightly alluded to in the first half (odd bit of tech, a gadget, and so on), then your queries would be answered in the second as genetics doctor Daniel Brühl was introduced, as well as a completely wasted Gemma Arterton as his wife who it seems was only present because her character had a more effective womb than Isabelle's, seeing as how Isabelle is pushing fifty. Without going into too much detail because this was almost worth watching to see how nutty it became, the lack of a grasp on actual science, never mind nature, reminded one of nothing more than Joyce McKinney in the Errol Morris documentary Tabloid - the bit with the dogs. But just because this was crazy didn't mean it was good, indeed its sincerity was farcical. How could Delpy get this so wrong after such a promising start?
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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