If, after watching the preview trailer for Zoe -- Amazon Video's softer, gentler take on synthetic love -- you’re reminded of more than one episode of Black Mirror, you’re definitely not alone.
The upcoming Ridley Scott executive-produced movie takes the idea of dystopia and finds its tender spot, coupling titular Zoe (a Westworld-worthy realistic android played by Léa Seydoux) with the last person who should be romantically invested: her creator, Cole Ainsley (Ewan McGregor).
Their unlikely romance is set up by a wider context: Cole has been part of the development team behind a new breed of synths who appear to offer better romantic prospects than their flesh-and-blood counterparts. Their compatibility with potential human mates is predicted using a similar “chance of success” percentage device as we’ve seen in the “Hang the DJ” episode of Black Mirror (and incidentally, “Hang the DJ” is among the small handful of BM installments that ends happily.)
Cole’s deep emotional conflict over his AI relationship also vibes with Black Mirror’s “Be Right Back” episode, in which a bereaved woman forges a new (or is it continuing?) relationship with a disturbingly believable synthetic analogue of her dead boyfriend.
Cole knows Zoe (pronounced “Zoh”) is a synth, but he can’t help his feelings for her. To add to the intrigue, Zoe wasn’t designed to know she’s an android — a trope that forms the central twist of the decidedly more pessimistic dystopian stories told in Blade Runner and Westworld.
Directed by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy) and starring McGregor, Seydoux, Theo James, Rashida Jones, Miranda Otto, and Christina Aguilera (as a low-tech robot prostitute), Zoe made its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, and is now set to hit Amazon Prime on July 20.