Dear Zoe, Sadie Sink stars in this family story

Theo Rossi and Sadie Sink in Dear Zoe

Dear Zoe describes the emotional turmoil a family goes through after the loss of a child. The unusual aspect of the story is that it’s told from the point of view of a teenager, the big sister of the child. The story explores the first year after the loss.

Dear Zoe stars Sadie Sink as Tess, the big sister to two younger half-sisters that her mom (Jessica Capshaw) and step-dad (Justin Bartha) have. When Zoe, who is a beautiful bright star in the family, is killed in a traffic accident Tess thinks it’s her fault.

Little Zoe (Mckenzie Noel Rusiewicz) is killed on 9/11/2001, a date everyone in the country remembers as marking the Before and After. But in this family it marks before losing Zoe and after losing Zoe. The film looks at the first year in the family after Zoe’s loss.

Sadie Sink on the  Dear Zoe poster with Mckenzie Noel Rusiewicz  as Zoe

The family falls apart. Tess is angry and obnoxious about it. A therapist wants everyone to keep a notebook and write their feelings about Zoe down. At first Tess refuses, but before the year is over she begins writing. We hear what she writes in voice over as a letter to Zoe. Tess is an artist and the notebook contains many drawings of Zoe and the other characters. Be sure to stay around for the credits to get a complete look at the notebook.

The film has all the beats that families experience facing this kind of loss. Numbing out, being angry, having affairs, working too much, running away, being afraid, using alcohol or drugs. It’s from Tess’s point of view and she isn’t mature enough to realize that everyone is doing their best in one way or another.

Tess’s other little sister, Em (Vivien Lyra Blair) struggles. Both her parents are a wreck. Tess leaves the family and goes to live with her dad (Theo Rossi) in a nearby town. Even while at her dad’s house, Tess does her best to look after Em.

Tess’s dad, Nick, is kind of a loser. He can’t keep a job. He lives in a rundown part of town. The way he makes a living is questionable. He does his best to help Tess, however, and pulls himself together for her as much as he can.

Sadie Sink and Kweku Collins in Dear Zoe

Next door to Nick lives a dreadlocked bad boy named Jimmy (Kweku Collins). Naturally, Tess is attracted to him. Everything he does takes her away from the ache in her heart. He gives her weed, makes out with her, takes her to an amusement park where he works. She even gets a job there during the summer.

Sadie Sink makes the movie work. Without her it might have been a dud. Even as a teen, she had that star quality and it is apparent here. Gren Wells directed the film, which is streaming on Prime and several other streamers. The film is based on a novel by Philip Beard.

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