Review: Loosely based on Robert C. O’Brien’s 1972 novel of the same title, Z for Zachariah turns into a post-apocalyptic love-triangle drama — which you can interpret as a love triangle drama set in a post-apocalyptic world or a post-apocalyptic survival drama with touches of love triangle.
A young nuclear apocalyptic survivor, Ann (Margot Robbie, The Wolf of Wall Street), lives a lone, monotonous life in a surprisingly uncontaminated farmland. Therefore, sudden encounter with another survivor, John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) — a fragile former scientist, reignites lights in her heart. Together, they start establishing “life” and connection — Ann nurtures John back to health, while John helps Ann to run the farm with his knowledge of science. Yet, fate gets suddenly twisted when another survivor, Caleb (Chris Pine, Star Trek, Into the Woods), bumps into the routine.
Z for Zachariah attempts to cover a lo-fi story within a big wasted world. However, I don’t think its constant silence can efficiently wrap big ideas, like believer vs. non-believer friction, racial inferiority, even the re-enacment of Adam and Eve story.
If not for superb performance by Margot Robbie as a young lone survivor — emanating the insecurity and fiery enthusiasm of her young blood to encounter a more mature figure of Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), Z for Zachariah might be difficult to follow due to its slow pace and ambiguous tone.
A complete contrast between its warm first half and its more sinister second half also proves its ambiguity like I mentioned previously, whether it’s a love triangle story set in a post-apocalyptic world or a post-apocalyptic survival drama with a little too frustrating love triangle.
There’s no simple way to describe how this simple-conflicted story turns into a deep, contemplative one.