Got your fill of rom-coms? How about a sci-fi romance for a change?. Ewan McGregor plays Cole, an artificial intelligence engineer who creates a beautiful and highly realistic synthetic “woman” named Zoe (Lea Seydoux). Cole’s lab isn’t just making convincing companions, it’s also revolutionizing love. “The Machine” is a highly complex algorithm that can predict whether a relationship will ultimately work out. It has also synthesized a drug that can mimic the feeling of falling in love. But all of these things together don’t exactly mean a world full of meaningful relationships: humans will always exploit emotions. And Cole is lonelier than most.

MV5BZDZjOTUyNTctM2E0Zi00MGIwLWEyZmYtYTIzNDg2MmZiN2FmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzk3NjQ1MTc@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Zoe doesn’t understand that she’s synthetic at first, and it’s a little heartbreaking when Cole has to tell her. Then she questions everything. Like these unrequited feelings she has for him – was she programmed to have them? She was not. But as the two grow closer, and become a couple, she senses things are still unequal. Knowing who she is, what she is, has him holding something back.

Zoe is a movie about the complexities of love, and what happens when technology disrupts it. Men are eager to visit synthetic brothels (Christina Aguilera plays a robot hooker, for some reason) but will they ever trust synthetics to have real feelings? Of course, in a world where those feelings can be manufactured and manipulated with a pill, I wonder if they haven’t been sufficiently devalued that synthetic or not, it shouldn’t really matter anymore.

At any rate, there are some really interesting ideas here, they just aren’t executed all that well. The movie opens up this delicious Pandora’s box but then offers almost no social commentary, and its protagonist’s navel-gazing is immature and insensitive. There are no glaring problems with any of the movie’s moving parts, it’s just that they don’t add up to anything all that gripping or compelling (except for the soundtrack, which was the only notable standout). With themes of authenticity of both personhood and emotion, Zoe pales in comparison to Ex Machina and even Her, and you can’t quite forgive its shortcomings. I suppose movies are a little like robots in that, if you can’t make it better, why bother making it at all?

11 thoughts on “Zoe

  1. Film4Fan

    Much like with Doremus other films, the soundtrack was the best thing it had to offer. I thought that the film was just okay, and as you said, it throws all of these ideas at us, though it never does anything with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. msjadeli

    Rhetorical question, but why is it always the human men creating the “perfect woman”. I’d like to see someone try having the woman create a perfect man for a change. The best rendering I think I’ve seen so far with human interaction with robots has been in Blade Runner 2049. An old anime, “Big O” (no it’s not porn — Big O is a Transformeresque giant fighting machine), with the protagonist, Roger Smith, happening across a female android; it does a fair job, more from the android’s perspective, of how to navigate romantic feelings between human and android.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jay Post author

      I think in most female sci-fi, we don’t want to create perfect men, we want to do away with men altogether so we figure out how to impregnate ourselves and get rid of men forever!!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Liz A.

    I’ll stick to the series Humans, thank you very much. They had synth hookers (who ultimately became a murderer, but she was pretty much justified) and synths falling in love with humans (well, that’s the same synth, but she’s quite the character).

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Bryan Fagan

    I like movies that go deep in the social side of things. When I see a movie that should hit the mark and miss I always wonder if it’s the writing or the editing. Someone is to blame on this. I’m curious if this movie had more but it was gutted.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. selizabryangmailcom

    That’s a pity, ’cause I love Ewan McGregor. But he probably did a good job, regardless. This review reminds me of Automata, too, the movie with Antonio Banderas.

    We were really looking forward to it, and it was WAY underwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person


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