Saving Zoë is unable to adequately translate the source material to the big screen despite some fine performances from the Marano sisters.
After sister Zoë (Vanessa Marano) gets murdered, Echo’s (Laura Marano) life pretty much comes to a standstill. Neither parents seem to be doing okay with it. If anything at all, they’re just grieving in their own ways. Her mom turns to peels while dad works all the time. While this isn’t healthy at all, everyone has their own way of grieving. If it means becoming a drug addict, so be it. Later on, she discovers her sister’s diary. While this enables Echo to learn more about her sister, it turns out that there is more here than meets the eye. Once Echo is able to get to the truth of why her sister was murdered, she can finally start the grieving process.
Saving Zoë feels like one of those made-for-television films rather than a story being told on the big screen. I have to say that I honestly felt like I was watching a film that could have easily been airing on Lifetime. While I have yet to read the book, I can’t help but think that maybe the book is better. This only goes to show just how problematic it is to adapt novels for the screen, big or small. There isn’t anything innately wrong in wanting to tell this story. Something just happened to get lost in translation so to speak. This is unfortunate because the Marano sisters are fine actors in their own right. They certainly have the resume to show for it.
What’s so disappointing about this adaptation is that there’s an important story to tell. I don’t deny that some stories can be cathartic to write. Listen, I have been there myself when it comes to sorting out my feelings on gender identity. I am not saying that this story is best left untold because there is something here. It’s just that the film doesn’t feel as compelling as it could especially when you factor in the subject matter. The subject of sex trafficking is a serious matter. It should not be taken lightly.
You’re certainly welcome to give this film a chance but I left Saving Zoë feeling quite a bit disappointed. I do not see this film as being a complete disappointment but I believe that it could have been executed better. Saving Zoë honestly should have stayed a book.
DIRECTOR: Jeffrey G. Hunt
SCREENWRITER: LeeAnne H. Adams & Brian J. Adams
CAST: Laura Marano, Vanessa Marano, Gloria Whigham, Chris Tavarez, Michael Provost, with Nathaniel Buzolic and Ken Jeong