Tribeca Reviews: ZOE, IN A RELATIONSHIP & WOMAN WALKS AHEAD
Kristy Strouse reviews her final batch of films from Tribeca Film Festival, including Zoe, In a Relationship, and Woman Walks Ahead.
The Tribeca Film Festival this year had no shortage of variety, and while I wasn’t able to screen even close to as much as I’d like, I was able to experience an assortment that astounded. I contribute this to the quality of current filmmaking, and the importance of festivals such as this one, which gives a voice to those looking to make an impression. Here is my last roundup of films. Until next time!
Zoe (Drake Doremus)
Zoe’s main focal point is love, and unfortunately for me, no matter how hard I yearned for a connection, I didn’t fall head over heels. This was a disappointment because of the talent involved, a promising premise, and a director astute at handling romantic complexities.
Within the context of Drake Doremus’s newest feature, there are multiple ways that this movie tackles the creation of love. Is it quantifiable? Can it be manufactured in a lab, or can it be traced by a compatibility test? What about AI, or synthetics as they are called here, is it possible for them to have those feelings?
All of the ideas are intriguing, and of course, there are similarities to our current climate, with our decrease in personal interactions and growing feats in technology. Still, Zoe doesn’t challenge the subject matter enough. The film clearly draws inspirations from other movies and television series of this sort, without completely making something of its own.
Lea Seydoux is Zoe, and her world has been turned upside down as she finds out that she’s not human. She has feelings for her creator Cole (Ewan McGregor) and both roles struggle with whether or not to engage in a relationship. As if things weren’t already complicated enough, they start experimenting with a new pharmaceutical that, for a little time, endows the sensation of falling in love.
There’s a certain visual style that Doremus uses throughout that keeps reality at just the right distance, using emotions we know, with a story and look that’s science fiction. The music is also pleasing, as are most of the technical areas, and the delicate performances.
Still, just as the character struggled, Zoe never quite became real enough for me.
In A Relationship (Sam Boyd)
It’s difficult to imagine that a rom-com about twenty somethings in LA could bring anything new to the table, but In a Relationship is just charming and funny enough to avoid problematic narratives or clichés. It’s a candid piece tackling the perspectives of two couples, one ending and the other beginning, and director Sam Boyd wrote the screenplay based on his 2015 short film of the same name.
Hallie (Emma Roberts) and Owen (Michael Angarano) are a seasoned couple who have been together 3-5 years (depending on who you ask), but when the question of moving in together is laid on the table, Owen is spooked. The two eventually decide to take some time apart.
Their mutual friend Matt (Patrick Gibson), the most innocent of the bunch, has a hookup with the wild (in comparison) Willa (Dree Hemingway), Hallie’s cousin, and rapidly falls for her. They begin a romance that has some of the film’s sweetest moments, aptly capturing the parable of new love from each of their points of view.
While Hallie and Owen aren’t sure if they’re meant to be, they embark on a life without one another. This is a movie that focuses on the humor in everyday moments, and romance in every stage (even digression) but it saves time for some poignant notions too. In a Relationship works because of the casting, who all share a magnetism on screen, and a quick pace narrative that gives a story that you might not personally know, but you’ll find authentic all the same.
Woman Walks Ahead (Susanna White)
Even when the narrative isn’t as fascinating as you’d like, or there are issues with the structure, if the performances stand out, other elements in a movie can be overlooked. With Susanna White‘s film Woman Walks Ahead, however, the true story that inspired this adaptation is an interesting part of history (which could have used more specificity to the truth), and there are some issues regarding the final project, but the cast is great. Therefore, flaws forgivable.
Jessica Chastain plays aspiring artist and activist Catherine Weldon, who ventures off to Standing Rock despite public opinion, to paint Sitting Bull (Michael Greyeyes). She’s determined, even though women in the 19th century weren’t exactly taken seriously. She endures emotional and physical abuse, but her perseverance wins out. In this, Chastain‘s portrayal is searing. Her relationship with Sitting Bull is an intriguing one, as the two learn to relate even through a language barrier.
There is the recurrence of the “white savior” role, and the fact that Chastain‘s wealth enables her immunity more often than not, that are negatives undoubtedly, but I still enjoyed the movie. Greyeyes and Chastain, even Sam Rockwell as Col. Silas Groves, are all exceptional. The prolific beauty is captured by cinematographer Mike Eley, as the roaring rich landscape becomes a character in itself. Woman Walks Ahead might have its imperfections, but if you are attentive, you’ll find it can be rewarding.
What are your thoughts on any of the films mentioned?
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