Zoe is not just a film about artificial intelligence and the influence it will have on our society. It also shows how artificial our society will be in the future. A world where feelings are reduced to figures and where pharmaceutical concoctions provide a short but intense expression of love. Both with disastrous results. Couples who are madly in love, without any major relationship problems, grow apart very quickly after hearing the final score of “The Machine”. A percentage that indicates how much chance there is that their relationship will succeed. Couples who are about to split up can take advantage of Benysol to experience those feelings of falling in love again. Which in turn leads to the trade of this product in an illegal circuit, as these feelings have an addictive effect. Zoe was fascinating, intriguing and touching at the same time. A film that kept me busy the days after I saw it. I don’t have that often.
Zoe is a mixture of Her and Ex Machina. Her was also about the love between a person and a non-human entity. In Her it was a computer program that communicated sensually and seductively using the voice of Scarlett Johansson. Just because of the sexy voice I would fall in love with this artificially intelligent creature consisting of program lines. In addition to the development of a relationship test program and pharmaceutical love potions, Cole Ainsley (Ewan McGregor), an engineer and expert in the field of A.I. who works at Relationist, managed to construct lifelike androids. Artificially intelligent beings that function autonomously. Just like Ava in Ex Machina. Only less futuristic and equipped with all elements such that there is no distinction between them and a human being. Cole and stares every night at his computer screen in search of a possible matching partner. I wonder if his loneliness and lack of female companionship cause his imagination to go in a certain direction, which then manifested itself in the design of these “synthetics”. Because his creations are equipped with a voluptuous bosom. Just like Zoe (Léa Seydoux).
The film is pretty slow. There are many moments with a distant and preoccupied Zoe or Cole. Zoe tries to fathom her raison d’être and experiences a personality crisis, asking herself who she really is. Cole is caught in his emotions when it’s about Zoe. He’s intuitively attracted to her but his sense of reality about the person Zoe bothers him. Perhaps because of that, you feel there’s a certain kind of distance between these two individuals. An insurmountable obstacle with disastrous consequences for both. The result is a flee in self-pity for the one. And even doubting the meaning of existence for the other. But not only the romantic problems are central here. Also, the film covers the interaction of “synthetics” with their immediate environment and other similar designs. And it highlights the associated well-known phenomenon of a piece of electronics developing a feeling of life and a consciousness.
I thought the two protagonists played a sublime role as opposites. Perhaps some will say there was absolutely no chemistry between them. But wasn’t that the point? It shows how love sometimes has to overcome difficult obstacles. And how ultimate love will circumvent all obstacles. In that respect, their acting was perfect. But especially Léa Seydoux fascinates. The way her mood changes, is wonderful to see. One moment she looks like a teenager whose young life is filled with puppy love and therefore she flutters through the scenes. The next moment she’s hurt and looks like a hopelessly lost young woman, full of doubts who plunges into a chaotic love life. It was a pleasant surprise to see Theo James appear in this indie-SF. And to be honest, I found his character more interesting than the one he played in the Divergent series. And last but not least, you can also admire Christina Aguilera as a lifelike inflatable doll that entertains lonely fetishists.
Well, I really liked Zoe. It’s a beautiful film and a bit of a relief after a number of less successful films. But I’m guessing you figured that out already, after reading this long lyrical review. Even though I feared it would be a boring average movie at the beginning. The different story layers fascinated me and kept me riveted to my screen. It’s an extraordinary film pointing out that future relationships with artificial beings will be more complex than the human relationships as we experience them today. Sure enough, I could predict in advance how it would end and what a final picture we would get with Zoe in close-up. But, for once, that didn’t really bother me.
Zoe is now available on Amazon Prime.