Zoe follows the development of a new form of Artificial Intelligence. Designed specifically to fulfil the human need of companionship. In a world full of robots used for menial tasks, one man dedicates his life to create the perfect synthetic human. One that could provide a true relationship. Artificial intelligence, that has the capacity to love.
It's fair to say, that there have been heaps of films and TV shows around the A.I theme. Some are definitely better than others. Spielberg's AI, for instance, was splattered with symbolism but raised significant questions along the way. This is where Zoe succeeds where others have failed. Yes, we get the same hint of Pinocchio as all the other AI stories. But the focus is firmly on complex emotional needs. What is love, real love?
Throw in the mix the introduction of a synthetic drug. A drug that real humans have become dependent on for a quick fix of love, but only lasts a few hours. Then the question becomes, which is more real? Love naturally achieved towards a synthetic person or love for a human via the use of a synthetic drug?
For me, this was the first film I had seen from Drake Doremus and was totally blown away. Doremus creates a deeply atmospheric experience that manages to stimulate every sense. The camera work is incredible with constant subtle focuses of touch and feel. However, it is not just the visuals that stir the emotions. The music is perfectly blended throughout, significantly adding to the experience.
A brief look at the previous work from Doremus shows that he works well confronting the tragic emotional needs of love and the loss of. He has worked with some incredible talent in the past. But the casting choice in this film is fantastic. Ewan McGregor and Léa Seydoux are absolutely electric on screen as the lead characters. Both give a beautiful masterclass of acting. A totally convincing emotional journey that is deeply touching, but gets the main questions across brilliantly.
Theo James gives a solid performance as the male synthetic human. Even support roles from the likes of Miranda Otto and Rashida Jones contribute well to the story. Oh, Christina Aguilera plays a robot prostitute – a very talented one apparently.
Zoe is one of those films that you will love or hate. If you are a hardened Sci-Fi buff then the focus in this film may be a little off track for you. It starts slow, very slow, but as the real subject matter bubbles up to the surface that quickly changes.
All in all, Zoe was a fantastic surprise and easily one of the best films I have experienced in a long time. A beautifully executed romantic tale that manages to disturb in subtle ways – just a fantastic and intelligent cinematic experience.