Review: Z for Zachariah
In a departure for director Craig Zobel, recently of the difficult Compliance, (and the creator of Homestar Runner), comes a story of a dystopian future.
But unlike The Hunger Games or Divergent or The Maze Runner, (or The Giver), the protagonists are not teenagers, and also, there is little central conflict.
What is featured instead is Margot Robbie attempting to be Southern and disheveled, (she does not really succeed at either, and wears more and more make-up as the film progresses). Robbie plays Ann Burden, a preacher’s daughter and farm girl, who is stuck living by herself, (and her dog), without electricity, after an unspecified distasteful wipes out much of the human population. Ann thinks that she is alone, until Loomis, (played by 12 Years a Slave’s fantastic Chiwetel Ejiofor) appears wearing a strange suit, attempting to go swimming.
After, there a long bit of foreshadowing, in which Ann tells Loomis not to go into the water and why, she tentatively invited him into the house. During a peek at the bookshelf, the title of the movie starts to come into focus, as neither Loomis nor the late-arriving Caleb (Chris Pine) are named Zachariah. The book that Loomis picks up is A for Adam, suggesting a sort of last man theory is at play in the film. It is an end of days type film, fraught with social and moral dilemmas, revealing but for the insertion of celebrities, this movie isn’t actually too far removed from Compliance.
The only problem is that an audience might not be patient enough to understand the rewards of this languid and yet also fast-moving film of about ninety minutes, Zobel does not reward viewers with cathartic relief, nor does he supply any clear answers. The film’s major dilemma is entirely unresolved, and though Ejiofor delivers the best line of the movie, his character never seems to find the healing that he so desperately seeks. Ann often feels too reactionary, rather than relying on her principles. Though the bold stroke by Zobel is to leave motivations often hidden, we sometimes wonder why these characters choose to act or react the way that they do,
This reviewer enjoyed the bold ambiguity, and this film seems almost like the perfect transitional vehicle, away from summer’s sense of spectacle, and into the seriousness of the fall slate. But for appreciating this film, only the truly adventurous need to sign up. To gain perspective, the omega must be sought by the alpha viewer.