Z for Zachariah (7/10)

Z for Zachariah

After the end of the world she thought she was alone. She was wrong.


In the wake of a nuclear war, a young woman survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the proverbial last woman on earth, until she discovers the most astonishing sight of her life: another human being. A distraught scientist, he’s nearly been driven mad by radiation exposure and his desperate search for others. A fragile, imperative strand of trust connects them. But when a stranger enters the valley, their precarious bond begins to unravel.

Title Z for Zachariah
Director Craig Zobel
Director of Photography Tim Orr
Runtime 1 h 37 min
Certification PG-13
Release Date 13 August 2015
Tagline After the end of the world she thought she was alone. She was wrong.
IMDb Id tt1598642

After an unexplained nuclear event, a young woman Ann has been living as sole survivor for at least a year or two on her parents’ farm in a valley which seems to have been shielded from the radiation that has killed most if not all other people. One day, another survivor stumbles upon her patch: Mr Loomis, infected with radiation sickness. Ann nurses him back to health. As his strength returns, Mr Loomis begins to help out around the farm to amongst other things ensure they have food to survive the next winter.

Ann (Margot Robbie) is fairly immature, not only young but also inexperienced in life much beyond the farm, and raised a good Christian. Mr Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a middle-aged logic-driven scientist, bringing new knowledge and skills that can help them survive around the farm. As they start various projects, they grow closer. But Mr Loomis can see how immature and naive Ann is, and he is in no particulr hurry to explore these feelings. They have all the time they want after all.

That is, until a third survivor, Caleb (Chris Pine), shows up after a few months. A triangle evolves in which the true intent of each of the players, and in particular of the two men, isn’t clear.

It is a very slow-paced movie, allowing for a gradual exploration and exposition of the characters and their emotions. Margot Robbie is strong in portraying the persistent naivity of Ann, believing in the good of people and God, but most of the emotional depth in the movie is convincingly delivered by Chiwetel Ejiofor. He can show his pain with his eyes alone.

Chris Pine only shows up late in the movie, and whilst his performance feels shallower, he does succeed in keeping his true intentions unclear and therefore the audience wondering. But you are really more interested in how Mr Loomis is going to handle the triangle.

If you can handle the snail’s pace, it is a pretty good movie carried by the performances of Ejiofor and Robbie. The relationship, tension and emotions build nicely and you don’t quite know how the story will develop. The triangle section is predictable in its core scenario and emotions, but the  acting by Robbie and Ejiofor carry the viewer through that with enough interest. There is a scene where the race card is played, but there was no build up for that to add any value to the story, and it is also then ignored and just left hanging in the rest of the story so it seems out of place. But the ending makes up for it again.

Worth seeing. 7/10

Z for Zachariah (7/10)
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