Z for Zachariah
Starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Chris Pine
Based on the posthumously published novel of the same name by Robert C. O’Brien, Z for Zachariah seems to already have a cult literary following upset with the Hollywood adaptation. However, seeing the film and then going back to research the book, I can’t stress enough how we need more science fiction “lite” films like this. Wonderfully acted, completely engrossing subject manner which is used in an extreme post-apocalyptic setting. Rare to find this type of character development which relies on awareness in social experiments, behavioral studies, all working together to produce a deeply meditative and methodical thriller.
Ann (Robbie) has been alone for a year in Burden valley, which seems to be the only place spared from the radiation that has destroyed the rest of the world’s population. She fears she is the last remaining human, until a man dressed in protective gear arrives in her neck of the woods. Loomis (Ejiofer) survived the apocalyptic event because he was working underground. Now two, Ann and Loomis get to know each other and begin planning to survive the winter. Loomis designs a waterwheel that will provide electricity. Their relationship and survival plans are interrupted when yet another stranger shows up, threatening to disrupt their balance.
Wonderfully acted, completely engrossing subject manner.
Yes the story has been significantly changed from the book to the film version, Chris Pine’s third character doesn’t exist in the original work. Both versions have intriguing elements and end completely different, however, the film works extraordinarily well on its own. Compliance director Craig Zobel’s junior film effort continues to increase my faith in his work. Keeping the story intimate, yet the ideas and location grand, prove his sturdy hand and understanding as a director. Screenwriter Nissar Modi understands exactly where the limits of the genre are, carefully keeping the viewer firmly situated in the realm of believability.
The performances here, led by Australian Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), doing a modest country accent, keep the focus on the characters and not the circumstance. Ann is presented as an adaptable, strong, Southern girl who trusts her faith to survive. She prays for Loomis recovery after he jumps in the infected water, and it’s unclear if her prayers are from a place of sincerity or loneliness. Just as the motives of Loomis or Caleb are rarely transparent for the audience which provides endless suspense. One of my favorite subjects the film tackles is religion vs. necessity, Loomis can’t understand why Ann doesn’t want the church building to be torn down and use the materials to supply the water wheel. There is so much to explore and discuss with this film; the title is derived from a Biblical children’s book teaching the ABC’s beginning with A for Adam and ending with Z for Zachariah.
Endlessly engrossing and fascinating despite its variation from source material.