[Video Interview] Julie Delpy on the psychology of her characters in heartfelt drama ‘MY ZOE’


Preston Barta // Features Editor

Above entertainment, cinema can provide a glorious springboard for conversation about all manner of emotions. Movies can give parents the vocal tools to talk to their kids and help expose them to life’s challenges through love and loss.

Julie Delpy’s new film, My Zoe, is a heartfelt drama that unspools the human experience in all its dimensions. It centers on a scientist and mother named Isabelle (Delpy), who’s juggling the incredible demands of her job, divorce, and parenting her young daughter Zoe (Sophia Ally). Zoe’s father, James (The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage), wants to give his relationship with Isabelle another try, but Isabelle intends to move on. This leads to many finger-pointing arguments (a la Marriage Story) when anything left of center in Zoe’s life occurs. But then tragedy strikes, and Isabelle is forced to take matters into her own hands.

My Zoe is an easy experience to spoil. So, if you research beyond this, proceed with caution. Even the trailer may give too much away. But it’s challenging to discuss Delpy’s film without looking at what happens in its second half. Let’s just say: Don’t expect a straightforward drama. There comes a point where the story takes a risk by slipping into sci-fi territory. When the turn comes, and the narrative continues to embark down that road, it doesn’t keep from abandoning the film’s emotional strength, which is a mother’s love for her daughter.

It’s films like this that give you a new perspective and appreciation for what you have. It’s not a comfortable journey to endure, but sometimes all you want is the sense that there are other people out there in the world who understand your pain and worries in life.

Fresh Fiction spoke with Ms. Delpy recently (via Zoom) to discuss some of these eye-opening themes as well as the psychology of the characters she pens. Watch our video chat below, and see My Zoe in select theaters on February 26 and On-Demand on May 25.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.