Z for Zachariah Movie Review
Nuclear wars aren’t all bad. They kill off most people, but if you live in a secluded valley untouched by radiation, you get to live out your days in a beautiful farmhouse with no pesky neighbors snooping around.
In Z for Zachariah, Margot Robbie plays a woman who, after years of isolation, forms a bond with a fellow survivor (Chiwetel Ejiofor) that has stumbled into the valley. Their friendship, and possible romantic relationship, is put to the test when a second man (Chris Pine) arrives.
Well-acted and intriguing throughout, Z for Zachariah is a remarkably simple drama that takes full advantage of its cast. Director Craig Zobel, working from a script by Nissar Modi and a novel by Robert C. O’Brien, presents a powerful dynamic between the three characters (the only three people in the entire movie). Their chemistry is strong, and it’s what the film relies on.
Unfortunately, that won’t be enough for many people. A one-star user review on IMDB describes the film as “just a terrible, boring, nothing movie,” and on the surface, that’s what it is: it’s slow-paced, character-focused and simple in structure. Not a whole lot happens, and the film ends somewhat abruptly, relying on nuance and innuendo rather than with a climax or any definitive resolution.
I get it. I’m typically one of these people. Z for Zachariah is the kind of movie I often don’t like, one that relies a little too heavily on character over plot and that concludes without a true, explicit conclusion. And yet the movie works anyway thanks to the actors, the screenplay and the direction.
Z for Zachariah isn’t for everyone, but if it clicks with you, you’ll agree that it is one of the better movies of 2015.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.