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TIFF 2019 Film Review: “My Zoe” (2019) ★★★

© Courtesy of TIFF

It so happened that Julie Delpy’s “My Zoe” was the third film I watched at the Toronto International Film Festival that tackles divorce, the aftermath of it, and the shared custody of children. While “Hope Gap” talks about divorce and how a grown-up son suffers from the split of his beloved parents, Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” provides a whole different look, making us go through the insights of a broken family that can no longer be repaired. However, Julie Delpy takes a more drastic step into questioning the morals of what to do if something terrible happens, and by the time when the papers need to be signed over child custody, the child itself is gone.

“My Zoe” follows Isabelle (Julie Delpy) and James (Richard Armitage) who just got separated. Their relationship is tense. They can barely handle a dialog constructively and without arguments. It seems he always blames her for everything while judging from his actions, he seems more concerned about himself while Isabelle should be the one who must sacrifice everything. He even refused to accommodate her requests when she cannot pick up their daughter, Zoe from school. And he won’t agree to do so till he finds out where is it that she must be that she considers more important than her child. But when tragedy occurs and Zoe falls sick, the two even then won’t stop fighting until the moment when a harsh decision must be made after which their life will no longer be the same.

To keep away from the most crucial part of the film so as to not reveal the major plot of it, I must say “My Zoe” is quite an emotional journey of a mother who refuses to give up hope to recover her daughter from a tragic incident. It provides a genuinely surprising twist at the end which will make you cry. Of course, both James and Isabelle have differences and their own faults, but one thing you must grant them – it’s their unconditional love towards their sweetheart daughter who is on the edge of leaving them forever while they finalize who will have custody over her. In the end, one of them will make a decision that will shock you, whether it’s realistic or not, it’s an important step for Delpy’s character to take to retain what she cherishes the most – her Zoe.

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