Z for Zachariah Review
Pretty southern farm girl Anne (Margot Robbie) has successfully ridden out the apocalypse in her very own Eden at the end of the world – an isolated valley nestled in such a way to escape the radiation effects of whatever’s gone down. When John (Chiwetel Ejiofor) shows up, she’s happy to have company. They are a rather mismatched couple – she a devout believer, and he an older man of science – but the two nevertheless start to awkwardly develop a mutual fondness. That is until Caleb (Captain Kirk) shows up and threatens to relegate John down to third wheel. And the snake makes three.
The actors are granted copious breathing room by Craig Zobel’s conventional shooting style and nice, dull pace – like an episode of The Walking Dead that might happen between seasons, where everything is basically fine except that everyone is dead.
This ends up being its USP, because without zombie / cannibal / David Morrissey attacks, you’re left with normal human stuff like love, envy, loneliness, fear, and faith. It’s a great playground for these accomplished actors. Robbie wears Anne’s youthful innocence and resoluteness effortlessly, while Ejiofor powerfully depicts a broken man looking for something to live for. Caleb isn’t as well developed as the other players, but Chris Pine proves adept at playing at rough, non-leading man.
As with another of this week’s home video releases - Slow West - “Somewhere” America is played by the enthralling vistas of New Zealand, in this case captured perfectly adequately by the workaday cinematographer behind ‘Pineapple Express.’
To fuel your post-movie discussion, Zobel cunningly sidesteps a number of plot kernels and leaves them open to interpretation. It all depends on how much you like ambiguity, but for me it was a daring choice. My understanding is that this is quite a departure from Robert C. O'Brien’s source material, so surprises are in store for everyone!
As I have alluded, Paradise Lost is the theme. But the tension wrought by the love triangle is what keeps you in your seat. Come for the concept, stay for the performances.
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