Set on the backdrop of a small rural town, somewhere in the south of U.S which serves as the only inhabitable place in the wake of a nuclear war, Z For Zachariah follows the story of Ann (Margot Robbie) who seems the be the only inhabitant of this place and lives alone on her family’s farm. Much to Ann’s surprise she’s not the only human on the planet when she discovers a distraught scientist, Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and the two begin to form a fragile but imperative bond, that is until a guy by the name of Caleb (Chris Pine) arrives and well…things start getting awkward.
Z For Zachariah is a small film that embraces the fact that it’s a small film. It focuses on three characters and isn’t all that concerned with how the world ended but rather concentrates on the drama that unfolds among these three characters.
The acting is what, for me carries this movie and the film’s three leads all offer riveting turns. Chiwetel Ejiofor is undoubtedly the standout in a uniquely complex and wonderfully nuanced performance. Ejiofor plays a good guy with a very bad side and the vulnerability and jealousy he’s able to showcase makes his performance so great. Margot Robbie is fantastic as well as the innocent and god-fearing Ana. She gives a wonderful performance, a complete anti-thesis to her turn in The Wolf of Wall Street. And last but not least is Chris Pine who manages to shine even though he has a very limited amount of screen-time.
But I must say it’s the relationship between these three that’s even more so fascinating. The script from Nisar Modi is provokes thought and manages to create some truly compelling drama. It’s a bit of a slow-burn but I honestly don’t mind slow-burners if they are compelling in general and Z For Zachariah certainly is. The film is also one of the best-looking films I’ve seen this year, it’s gorgeously shot and makes use of it’s beautiful location (New Zealand, apparently) to full-effect.
But the film certainly isn’t without its flaws and for Z For Zachariah it’s the fact that it fails to always maintain focus and the minimalistic setting does make it a tad boring with pacing that drags throughout. The last twenty minutes are perhaps the worst of the entire film with an incredibly disappointing climax that just feels random and incomplete which in turn significantly diminishes the quality of the film.
Despite this, Z For Zachariah emerges as an immensely compelling film with some genuinely thought-provoking ideas, that is elevated by three strong central performances and some very interesting drama.