AI-Themed Blogging: ZOE Movie Review

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AI-Themed Blogging: ZOE Movie Review - Photo credit: twitter, edition by Amber255 via

As technology moves forward so fast to improve our lives, there are more and more frequent questions about how much and what layers of life it will really touch: whether only technological or human? While science creators are looking for better and newer solutions, filmmakers are trying again to let us consider whether people and feelings are possible to replace by machines.

One of the laws formulated once by Arthur Clark says: 

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Arthur C. Clarke

Credit: brainyquote

 In the case of modern books, movies, and games, where androids appear, this is especially relevant - leaving attempts to explain how non-existent technologies work, the authors blame everything on scientific magic, and either turn to the philosophy of humanity or go to social metaphors. Director Drake Doremus chose the first option, and he treated the topic extremely delicately.

Another search to try to answer whether robots will be able to love is the director Drake Doremus' ZOE. For Drake Doremus, this is not the first attempt to explore the themes of love and feelings. He is well-known for such films as Breathe In, Like Crazy or Equals. In the last films, he has also explored the impact of technologies or systems that restrict but not liberate on people' relationships.

Imagine sitting in a cozy restaurant with your beloved. There is absolute romance. Only one little thing disturbs: your beloved is a technologic creation, though performing perfectly. Your partner - humanoid.

Is mutual love between a man and artificial intelligence possible? How does look a perfect relationship's partner created in a laboratory which will love loyally, will be more emotional, more sensual and will never disappoint? What is love; what it needs to make a connection; how to know if it is real, and how to keep it - the director ask these questions to the audience, and the characters - one to the other.


ZOE Official Trailer - Video credit: youtube

The Plot

Zoe (Lea Seydoux) is the name of a girl working as an assistant in a large humanoid-creating company. With a smile, it helps the people, constructed by the real blood, rather than the wires, to figure out the indicators of fitness for each other. And helping others, Zoe falls in love with Cole (Ewan McGregor), her boss and the main researcher of the company.

She could not resist checking in the system their own fitness, the unexpected response reveals more details - that Zoe is capable of loving, but she is not the human but the first, experimental humanoid.

Then the film tries to investigate the story of love: how much the robot feels, and how much by a human to robot. And after all, whether the feeling of love between the two, such different bodies, is possible at all.

ZOE review - Photo credit: imdb

The Content 

Is the film about the question that does not give a piece of mind to people - how far will develop the science's progress, and is it possible for silicone-covered artificial intelligence to feel - is something new? Probably not very much. 

While watching you remember a similar idea from the film Her by director Spike Jonze. There, the main character Theodor falls in love with a computer system that of all the human attributes has only a charming voice and conscious thinking, which, again, is a well-managed set of algorithms. Zoe becomes a system that has already acquired a physical form that cannot only keep up the smooth, intelligent conversation but also express emotions with facial expressions. Or to really feel feelings, according to her.

This is probably why this film has been filmed mostly in the frames of big plans. That if there is those who do not believe in a union idea between man and robot, perhaps seeing such realistic creations from close that seem like a real person, may get closer to trust. Of course, this also adds intimacy if the movie is about love.

Romance film ZOE - Photo credit: twitter

Entering into the rhythm of the film is not easy: the regularity and dullness are tiring; in some places, it seems that the android filmed the film, which knows what romance should look like, but without talented people, Léa Seydoux and Ewan MacGregor, it could not show it.

Paradoxically, the film becomes even more topical when it adds a new fantastic detail - a drug that allows falling in love with a stranger for several hours. There are no such drugs yet, but mood control pills are now at every turn (especially in the USA), and their epidemic is becoming more and more terrible. In ZOE, a love drug attracts those who, like Cole, want to at least briefly forget their doubts and plunge into pure passion. But these are empty experiences, and they, like the buzz from real drugs, do not fill but drain people. Chemistry does not replace a life.

The contrast is recorded in black and white in the film. Real people take pills to experience the first feeling of love, but those who cannot feel, suddenly begin to show emotions. Many things lie on the surface of the picture, for which melodramatic bitter note looks easy. But there is no chic visual or expensive special effects, but there are topical themes that our society is full of.

Science fiction film ZOE - Photo credit: twitter

The love's drug theme is very little developed, and the revolutionary relationship appraisal program sounds simply a bit foolish and obsolete (responding to some common questions gives you evaluated relationship? Seriously?). The screenwriters seem to be brainstorming about the future, but they have not chosen the best thoughts, so they put all themes to the film. It is a pity because some ideas sound interesting and had potential.

The love's drug theme is very little developed, and the revolutionary relationship appraisal program sounds simply a bit foolish and obsolete (responding to some common questions gives you evaluated relationship? Seriously?). The screenwriters seem to be brainstorming about the future, but they have not chosen the best thoughts, so they put all themes to the film. It is a pity because some ideas sound interesting and had potential.

In general, may we also turn out to be biorobots of a higher order, just unaware, like Zoe, who came into the world by artificial means, even if it seems to us completely natural for the time being? And is there at least some difference between the various creatures generated by God, the Super-mind or clever scientists?

The world has become so synthetic that real people are now becoming artificial, real feelings are dying out, and we don’t appreciate what we have.

Science fiction film ZOE - Photo credit: imdb

The Characters

The most intriguing themes posed in art is the relationship between a man and a woman. No matter how much they write about it, shoot it, and study it, the interest remains the same. And what about when the secret is hidden in the discrepancy at a fundamental level?

Action is developing in the near future, where love is still relevant to people. However, for most people, this beautiful and very warm feeling is just as an accessory to a comfortable life. One of such people is the scientists of the giant company - Cole. The man is working on an extremely important project that will allow him, like many people around the world, to understand what needs for a perfect relationship between two loving people. 

Romance film ZOE - credit: twitter

Paradoxically, the relationship of the inventor Cole, who heads the company aiming to improve the relationships, has collapsed. He with his wife made a test and got a very low chance of a successful relationship. They could not forget it and divorced.

The team of scientists creates a Zoe - a perfect-looking robot capable to respond to human emotions. Communicating with artificial intelligence and examining every step of its mind, he soon begins to feel the warm feelings to Zoe, which can not only destroy his scientific career but also break the heart.

Zoe's eyes do not pretend - she is interested in the scientist, but the relationship between them can prevent not only the test for compatibility. She is a humanoid.

The film about artificial intelligence: ZOE  - Photo credit: twitter

Human and synthetic, but feelings are burning the same way. Love is the same; all the loneliness is the same; all the same pain from parting. Loneliness, lack of understanding of whether everything is real, can you cry, love, or do you just do everything on the machine, do you have all the feelings and motives of actions in advance?

Supporting robots are moderately lively so as not look frightening and inanimate enough to look like robots. The only, perhaps, to whom we can make a complaint - Ash (Theo James). It does not affect the plot, but it constantly tightens the situation.

The film about artificial intelligence: ZOE - Photo credit: youtube

The Technical Side 

The creators chose the dominant color of the yellowish and blue shades, creating a warm side of feelings and the colder reflecting artificial look.

The musical track forces to listen to from the first frames: calm, romantic, like the connecting fabric perfectly combining the visual, and the film idea's parts into a single piece. Again, some of these associations come with the movie Her, but if there was a perfectly classically sterile soundtrack, there it is more dynamic, a bit sweeter. 

This movie is not crowded with dialogues, and there is not much space for silence. So there is only music that, so admiring from the very first frames, at the end of the movie, after an hour and a half listening, may even become too sweet. I would like that the feelings would stay feelings without such thick, sweet glaze on the top. But in the whole, it is definitely one of the better soundtracks perfectly complementing the movie.


Lea Seydoux interview at ZOE premiere - Video credit: youtube

The Actors

Lea Seydoux, as always, has exhausted her arsenal of charm, embodying a sensual, (not) real woman. In such films, she pays successfully if we remember Blue Is The Warmest Color or It Only The End Of The World.

A bit unexpected is the role of Coleby Ewan McGregor. Dressed in plain jeans and jumpers with short hair, he looks more earthy than we used to see in other roles.

However, the duo of them both looks organic. Their roles are unquestionable even if the idea of the film is already questioned in other films and seems doubtful.

In the film, alongside Ewan McGregor and Lea Seydoux, we see the singer Christina Aguilera, which the public has missed in recent years. She embodies a sexy robot-prostitute.

ZOE review - Photo credit: zimbio

On A Final Note 

The question of perfect relationships in the future turns out to be pragmatic: just go to the laboratory, answer a few questions, and the computer will show what the compatibility of two people is, such as, 12 percent. Chances of staying together - little, so you need to look for another sympathy. Funny? Or may possible?

Here, the director, clearly, indirectly and very gently criticizes our supposedly anti-romantic present, where love narrowed down to the heart of Facebook, and the human connection - so scary - was confined to touching the smart screen. In other words, ZOE is not about the future, but about today. About us and longing for certainty.

At the finale, the director already tears off the veil from the eyes of the audience and show that true love is stronger than the percentage generated by the computer, and only love makes us human.

It is maybe not the best rating gathering film, but those who find boring to listen to the silly jokes in the comedy or tear up in the drama - this movie will be a good choice. After the film, you may come out somewhat a bit dreaming, maybe unbelieving, but wondering if the evolution of technology will lead us to the point where a person will not find a human relationship with another person and grab, as the last straw, the help, companionship, and love of humanoid programmed to understand humans well.

AI-Themed Blogging: ZOE Movie Review - Photo credit: imdb

The awakening true sincerity in a perfect biorobot best confirms the author's idea that programmed creatures invented and embodied by scientists in an incredibly lively form may turn out to be much more natural in their behavior and experienced emotions than genuine people belonging to organic nature.

Moreover, it is impossible to get rid of the sudden impression that real representatives of human civilization are beginning to look more like automated mechanisms, namely synthetic entities, already freed from sincere and genuine feelings.

A human/robot love story that is less deeply imaginative than Spike Jonze's Her and less heartbreaking than Doremus' own Like Crazy, the picture is nevertheless a beautifully acted, affecting drama that teases some questions society may need to answer sooner than we expect. 

Credit: hollywoodreporter

My rating: 6.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 32/100
Metacritic: 39/100
Critics average: 57/100
IMDb: 6.1/10 

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