Z For Zachariah

In a way, this is exactly the kind of end-of-the-world movie I’ve been keening for. No disaster porn here, it’s quiet, contemplative; a meditation on faith and hope. Margot Robbie plays a farmer’s daughter who’s beginning to think she might just be the last woman on earth when she comes 1280x720-36Vacross an exhausted scientist (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who can’t believe he’s just found the last lungful of fresh air. The two start building a life together when a third person (Chris Pine) arrives, disrupting their equilibrium.

The movie tells very little and shows even less of whatever it was that brought upon the world’s end. All we know are these few survivors and the shadows behind their eyes. You already know that Ejiofor is a fine actor, but both Robbie and Pine bring their A game as well, and this becomes a character study in the garden of Eden.

If you need action in your apocalypse, this one’s not for you. But if you like a movie that raises more questions than it answers, then you’ve probably met your match. What becomes of people when their past is wiped out and their future uncertain? And what happens to morality when no one is screen_shot_2015-06-05_at_10.36.19looking? There’s just a touch of creepiness to all that quietness, all that wide-open space that you can’t quite trust. A concept like safety gets redefined when humanity has just been all but wiped out.

If you’re open to it, there’s a lot of religious symbolism hidden like Easter eggs in the narrative of this movie. I wrote narrative rather than plot because to be honest, not a lot happens in this movie. And as much as I loved the absence of mutated monsters, and actually appreciated the stillness, and the lush cinematography that made downloadit feel almost impossible that any ugliness could find their little corner of land, there was also a…dullness, something lackluster about it all, despite the finely tuned performances. I think it was a lack of commitment, as if the movie really didn’t want to make any choices at all, wasn’t confident enough to actually choose a position. I’m not usually unconformable with ambiguity, but this one tested me a bit, and it was only because the movie was quite good that I wanted for it to be great, and this weakness held it back.

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25 thoughts on “Z For Zachariah

  1. fragglerocking

    Ooh well there’s no Caleb in the book, and Ann is only 16, sounds like they’ve made a mess of it for the movie, made it into a menage a trois when it is nothing like that. Ho hum, on the miss list.

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  2. Carrie Rubin

    I look forward to seeing this one. Margot Robbie is really getting a name for herself. I remember watching her on the short-lived TV series “Pan Am” a couple of years ago. At least I think that’s what it was called. Hopefully in this new movie, she gets to keep her clothes on, unlike in “Wolf of Wall Street.”

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  3. SLIP/THROUGH - Dan

    Great review with compelling analysis. I loved this movie more than most. I agree with a lot of your points. The deliberate pacing and thematic touches won’t please everyone. I really enjoyed the subtle and more internal performances. Like you said, it was refreshing to have an apocalypse that wasn’t focused on disaster, but rather the survivors. Thanks for spotlighting indie cinema.

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    1. Jay Post author

      Yeah, I knew lots of people were underwhelmed, so it defied my lowered expectations and I ended up enjoying it – and particularly the performances. I didn’t realize Robbie had depth.

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  4. ruth

    I like contemplative films about post-apocalyptic era, as most of them tend to be bombastic. Bummer this wasn’t very good but I’m still intrigued enough to rent it at some point. The cast sure is intriguing.

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    1. Jay Post author

      It totally would be!
      I mean, okay, maybe the fear is not dull, but being cut off from people sure is. I don’t think we’d do well with the monotony.

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  5. Cassandra

    I read this book when I was in the sixth grade (oh, so many years ago) and it haunted me for years. I can’t imagine that the movie would be as powerful (especially as I’m now in my mid-forties, not 11). So for that reason alone, I’m out.

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    1. Jay Post author

      I haven’t read the book but it seems to actually be only inspired by it, not all that similar in plot, so you’d probably be disappointed if you were looking for a faithful adaptation.

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  6. Brittani

    I think I’ll still check that out. What I’m not clear on is whether or not Robbie is supposed to be playing a teenager like her character in the book was?Because she certainly doesn’t look it.

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