Zoe is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
By I. Simon
Drake Doremus is not a filmmaker who I am particularly a fan of. I’ll admit I had only seen two films from him prior, but those films make me very unenthusiastic to check out his other work. Like Crazy I found to be decent at best (it won me over a bit, in the end, thanks to the late, great Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones), and Equals was so tedious to the point where it put me to sleep. But Doremus’ newest film, Zoe, is by far the worst I’ve seen from him, as it’s not only tedious but also very close to being utterly detestable and completely irredeemable.
Conceptually, Zoe admittedly sounds the most intriguing of the three films I’ve seen from Doremus, but a concept can only be good as its execution, and the execution is absolutely horrible. Doremus’ inept direction does not blend at all with Richard Greenberg’s already abysmal screenplay, and it makes the film feel incredibly tedious. The dialogue is very poor, the narrative is dull and derivative of far better science fiction films (such as Ex Machina and Her), and all of the characters are one-note. The filmmaking is very uninspired as well. The bland cinematography and dull palettes feel like a very poor attempt to emulate the visual style of much better science fiction films, the editing leaves much to be desired, the awful, cheap production makes the film feel more in the present day and not as futuristic or high-tech as it should be, and the score is absolutely forgettable, borderline terrible.
The performances also leave a lot to be desired. Léa Seydoux does try to make Zoe a compelling character, but unfortunately cannot make it work. Theo James – while not nearly as awful as expected – provides a one-note performance, Rashida Jones is given very little to do here, and Ewan McGregor is straight-up sleepwalking through this mess in a role that somewhat feels like a blend of certain elements of Oscar Isaac’s character in Ex Machina and Joaquin Phoenix’s character in Her. The performances overall are so weak for the most part to the point where the only scene that comes close to interesting is when Christina Aguilera makes a brief cameo.
If anything has made me lose any bit of the remaining optimism I’ve had for Drake Doremus as a filmmaker, it’s Zoe. The film wants to join the ranks of films such as Ex Machina and Her so badly by going as far as to ripping off concepts and ideas from them, but it can’t come up with anything new or remotely interesting to say, and ends up being not only a horrible film but an incredibly tedious and infuriating bore. In the end, Zoe is not worth your time, and you’re far better off watching something such as Ex Machina or Her.
I give Zoe a D-.