My Zoe (M, 100mins) Directed by Julie Delpy ****
The only good thing Isabelle (writer-director Julie Delpy) got out of her relationship with James (Richard Armitage) was her beloved daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally).
Truly the light of her life, the geneticist constantly tells the now seven-year-old that she “loves her more than the Big Bang”.
“Why does time go so fast when I’m with you?” she opines, as the shared custody agreement begins to take its emotional toll. “I feel like I’m missing half her life,” she later says to her lawyer.
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But it’s while in Isabelle’s care that a crisis develops. What starts out as seemingly mild cold symptoms one night, morphs into potentially something more sinister, when Isabelle is unable to wake Zoe the next morning.
At the hospital, her worst fears are realised when the still comatosed Zoe is diagnosed with intra-cranial bleeding caused by an aneurysm. While James rushes to her bedside too, far from bringing them together, their vigil only leads to relitigating past hurts and reviving recriminations.
As the prognosis gets bleaker, it only emphasises the emotional distance between the former couple. James might be prepared to accept fate, but Isabelle is determined to keep her daughter alive, any way she can.
Delpy’s, at times, heart-wrenching drama is very much a movie of two halves. The first is a sometimes excoriating look at what’s left of a now toxic former coupling. Think a European version of Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, but with less generosity towards one another.
“You’re just an awful human being,” Isabelle spits at James at one point.
A former star of Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, Delpy has previously shown a keen eye and ear for capturing relationship troubles in Two Days in Paris and Two Days in New York, but here, there really is a chill in the air when James and Isabelle are forced back together.
However, as My Zoe progresses, it morphs into a thought-provoking slice of sci-fi, a what if scenario that will linger with you long after the credits roll. How far would you go to stave off the effects of grief, refuse to accept what fate has dealt you and keep a memory (and more) alive?
While the solutions to such knotty questions may not be elegantly or seamlessly addressed by the slightly melodramatic storyline (it is definitely something of a first-world fantasy), there’s enough potential reality amongst the fiction, and believability amidst the occasionally overwrought drama, to draw you in and keep you riveted and invested in the ultimate outcome.
Hence, it’s easy to see why Delpy managed to attract a stellar supporting cast, who also include Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Gemma Arterton (Summerland), Lindsey Duncan (Blackbird).
I first saw this movie at the 2019 Macau Film Festival, just weeks before the current global pandemic apparently began less than 1000km away in Wuhan. Half a world away from my family (and own Zoe), it haunted me then – and it still packs something of an emotional punch now.
My Zoe is now available to rent from Neon, YouTube, GooglePlay and iTunes.
This article first show on www.stuff.co.nz Source link Author JAMES CROOT on date 2021-10-07 16:50:00