My Zoé by Julie Delpy: Love to death

My Zoe : Among the best things Julie Delpy did in her film, there is the title. The filmmaker manages to transcribe this sad situation where certain couples who separate literally tear up the child or children out of pure selfishness and desire for possession. For the rest, the film is rather disappointing, lacking in emotion despite the eminently sensitive subject.

Synopsis: After her divorce, Isabelle, a geneticist, tries to get her life back in hand. She falls in love and decides to relaunch her career. But her ex-husband, James, finds it difficult to accept her and makes her life difficult in the battle he is waging for custody of their daughter Zoe. A tragedy strikes them and the family is shattered. Isabelle then decides to take fate in hand.

Never let me go

According to her promotional program, we learn that Julie Delpy, the director of My Zoe, had a story similar to that of her heroine. In any case, the first part of the film, focused on the tearing of a couple over the custody of their child, would overlap with a situation that the filmmaker would have experienced personally. In My Zoe, the “My” is just as important as the first name. Possessiveness towards the child, who is the collateral victim of stormy separations, its objectification, these are the underlying themes of this film, themes that the filmmaker manages to convey very well.

This first part is presented as a series of sketches interweaving particularly bitter “conjugal” disputes, and moments of Isabelle (Julie Delpy herself) with her child Zoe (Sophia Ally). Freshly separated from James (Richard Armitage), a rather toxic man, Isabelle is mired in endless demands for an equitable sharing of on-call time, counting up to the quarter hours which are “due” to her. These scenes are dry, as uninhabited, despite the performance of Delpyq ui, as we know, is a very good actress. The aridity is not only due to the subject, that of the end of love and the beginning of (violent) resentments, but also to the narration itself, leaving nothing to really settle, passing from a scene to another without developing much either the story or the characters. Only scraps of life survive that do not allow the spectator to enter the story.

The sequences between Isabelle and her daughter Zoe are to match. Mother and daughter seem to represent a life that does not exist in reality, and the outbidding of “Love of my life” that Isabelle launches at Zoe sounds hollow, more like the filling of a void. and not the very passionate maternal love that we sincerely want to show us. In fact, the film sounds a little wrong, a little on the side, with a distancing which is certainly not intended, and which nevertheless sets in as the film progresses.

Predictably enough, the first part of the film ends with the drama, the disappearance of the child. It gives way to a new film, to science fiction. Isabelle is a scientist, a doctor, which should have facilitated the transition from one party to another, failing to validate it. The power of motherly love is actually the real bond between the two parties. But the proposition is so implausible and inconsistent at the same time that once again the viewer remains outside., never embarked on the yet lively delirium of the protagonist. And that’s a shame, because the bioethical questions that My Zoe brings deserves attention. Daniel Brühl, one of the film’s producers, seems overwhelmed by the role of mad scientist he takes on in the film. Gemma Atterton, who plays the character of his wife, plays the weather vane for no reason and without consequences. Everything passes, nothing is holding us back.

It’s a real shame that My Zoe be so unattractive. Julie Delpy is a fiery filmmaker who we love for her originality and daring. We love his Skylab or his Lolo, already on the theme of motherhood. But no matter how hard we try to find arguments in favor of the footage, we can only deplore the wrong path it has taken. His cinema is sincere, but this time his intentions did not reach their goal.

My Zoé – Trailer

See as well


My Zoé – Technical sheet

Original title: My Zoe

Director: Julie Delpy
Screenplay: Julie Delpy
Interpretation: Julie Delpy (Isabelle), Sophia Ally (Zoé), Richard Armitage (James Lewis), Gemma Arterton (Laura Fischer), Daniel Brühl (Thomas Fischer), Saleh Bakri (Akil Keser), Lindsay Duncan (Kathy)
Photography: Stephane Fontaine
Editing: Isabelle Devinck
Producers: Metalwork Pictures, Warner Bros. Film Productions Germany, Amusement Park Films, Baby Cow Productions, Electrick Films, Magnolia, Mae Films
Distribution (France): Bac Films
Duration: 200 min.
Genre: Drama
Release date: June 30, 2021
United Kingdom | Germany | United States | France – 2019

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