Sunday, August 30, 2015

Z for Zachariah - Review

   The post-apocalyptic film is slowly becoming a film genre in it’s own right. The flood, ironically, continues to flow, but this time in a different form. While other films will bring huge disasters or hoards of zombies running wildly around, Z for Zachariah instead focuses on it’s characters and how they adapt and behave at the end of the world. The result is a delicately calibrated and deliberately un-sensational triangle drama.
   Following the unexplained apocalypse, Ann (Margot Robbie) finds herself alone on a farm in a rather expansive valley that’s completely safe from contamination. All is well as she grows her food, hunts for meat, and lives a relatively (as relative as she can) simple life. That is until she stumbles upon a man named John (Chiwetel Ejiofor). John is man of science and the two strike up a bond of sorts that is thrown into turmoil when the mysterious Caleb (Chris Pine) enters the valley.
   I must admit I’m a sucker for character driven drama in a genre type setting. The setting of Z for Zachariah is post-apocalyptic but the reasons for this are never truly explored or examined. The film never delves into action heavy scenes to up the stakes but rather builds the drama from the character’s interactions with one another. Part of this is getting great performances out of your actors.
   By now it’s clear Chiwetel Ejiofor can act, and if wasn’t clear before, Z for Zachariah seals it. The performance he gives is a subtle yet complex one, making every emotion felt in just the right way with a simple facial expression or tone of voice. Margot Robbie is just as great and absolutely gorgeous, despite the filmmakers attempts to dampen her beauty for the apocalyptic setting. While its been known the previously mentioned actors can deliver it every time out, Chris Pine has never been the deep drama actor. Despite this notion, his abilities are showcased here, with the ever so slight mystery he brings with just a hint of his hidden motives.
    The themes are well thought out, delving into the argument of faith vs science without being too heavy handed in either direction. And this creates an interesting dynamic between Ann and John. While they stand on opposite ends in terms of what caused all of this mayhem, neither one tries to change the others mind. They just are who they are and let the other believe what they want. Then there is Caleb, who is so unknown that it’s hard to tell if what he tells Ann about his faith is fact or merely a ruse to further his motives.
   Overall Z for Zachariah is directed quite well by Craig Zobel, as he clearly gets stellar performances out of all three actors. Beyond that the film is shot beautifully, incorporating wide shots of the luscious valley. It’s haunting in it’s simplicity and the sudden ending is slightly jarring and leaves you puzzled and wanting more. Perhaps some audiences would prefer a fast paced, action packed apocalyptic film, but the drama that occurs on the small farm in the valley is enough drama to make for a pretty great film. (8.0/10)

So what did you think of Z for Zachariah? Have you seen it, are you interested in seeing it, or have you even had the chance to see it yet? Sound off below with your comments or feedback and remember to come back for weekly reviews.