Z for Zachariah Review: A Tranquil End to the World

Photo Credit:http://variety.com/2015/film/reviews/sundance-film-review-z-for-zachariah-1201413906/

Now, at the very end of summer, we’ve been shown a number of post-apocalyptic futures. But none of them are as calm or tranquil as Z for Zachariah‘s, which is both a strength and a weakness.

After a disaster left the rest of the world contaminated and uninhabitable, the naive but strong Ann (Margot Robbie) resides in a high-elevated sanctuary where the air is clean. She’s surrounded by nature at her old family home, with the only other building around being her former church. Scientist John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) stumbles upon her home and they begin a cautious relationship.

The first half of the film gets by on its premise alone, but the plot definitely feels stretched thing throughout. The second half, where a third survivor, Caleb (Chris Pine), enters the fold, downright crawls. To put it simply, very few things happen in Z for Zachariah. There are ideas thrown around, but almost none of them lead to anything significant.

What ends up making the film watchable are Robbie and Ejiofor’s performances. Robbie is instantly likable, but also unique as a main protagonist in a sci-fi film. She’s naive, but capable, which will hopefully prove to audiences and producers that not all strong female characters have to act like men. Ejiofor, meanwhile, continues his growing list of exceptional performances that started longer ago than most viewers will remember.

But without them, Z for Zachariah would be all talk. The stakes just never feel high, nor is there even an attempt to raise them. It’s the rich characters that make this story feel like it has some life to it. In this case though, it’s not quite enough. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty

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