>> “We’re always looking for a connection,” states a line at the beginning of Drake Doremus’ most recent feature Zoe, an Amazon Prime Exclusive that released on July 20th. This line is the identifying factor of Doremus’ work. Doremus has made quite the contribution to the modern romance genre, some of his most popular films include Like Crazy, Breathe In, and Newness. These films commonly explore atypical relationships, and Zoe may be the most atypical of them all. Set in the near future, Zoe explores the relationship between Cole (Ewan McGregor) and a synthetic human-like robot, Zoe (Léa Seydoux), that he built. As their relationship builds, Cole questions whether he can sustain a relationship with his synthetic creation.
If the synopsis of this film sparks any interest to you, don’t get your hopes up. This film is littered with cliches, including a “getting to know you better” montage and a pretty strange love triangle. Zoe attempts to tackle some big issues like the humanity of artificial intelligence, the consequences of playing god, and the organic ability—or disability—to love in a modern age. Yet, all of these themes are completely underdeveloped as the film's main intent is to focus on Zoe’s incessant need to discern what’s “real” and find what it feels like to love—which doesn’t make for a very compelling story. Overall, the writing is a big pot of boring mumbo-jumbo; the plot is scattered, and the characters are empty romantic archetypes.
With two strong actors at the film’s forefront, their performances are nothing more than mediocre. The chemistry between McGregor and Seydoux is almost nonexistent and at times forced. The technical quality of the film is consistent with Doremus’ previous work, but the design of future technology is simple and cheap; a glowing blue drink is really just a small LED in the bottom of a cup. Everything about the technical filmmaking is fine, but it doesn’t contribute or add to this boring mediocre potluck.
While Doremus’ work centers around connections, it’s near impossible for the audience to connect with Zoe. The film is barren, it’s characters are empty, and the writing is—at times—pretentious. There are many films that try to blur the line between human and synthetic, many of which are successful due to their ability to withhold philosophical pretenses of love and infatuation—take note, Zoe. 3/10 <<