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Review – Z for Zachariah

Z for Zachariah Poster

After a nuclear holocaust, Ann (Margot Robbie) is, as far as she knows, the last living person on Earth.  Holed up in the inexplicable safe-haven of her family’s farm, she does little more than survive on hope.  Hope that her parents will return with refugees.  Hope that her brother survived when he went after them.  Hope that God will see her through another harsh winter even if she’s not sure she cares enough to find out.  And then she finds John Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor).

A man of science, Loomis brings his skills along with a new kind of hope to Ann.  Hope for a future.  They couldn’t be more different, but as two of humanities only living remnants, they form a bond, quickly.  That bond is tested when a third party enters the picture in the form of Caleb (Chris Pine).  In many ways the opposite of Loomis, Caleb brings new sensations, feelings, and questions to Ann.  The future of humanity might just be hanging in the balance of post apocalyptic love triangle.

The premise is a juicy one.  A microcosmic look at humanity by way of the three people representing the last of it.  Drama and introspection are fruits ripe for plucking off a tempting tree.  Based on the book of the same name by Robert C. O’Brien, there is surely much material to draw from.

I haven’t read the novel, but I did read Wikipedia’s synopsis.  The few minutes it took me to do so were more interesting and gripping than the 95 spent watching this film, which deviates liberally from the original story.

While things unfold at the pace of a blistering snail, chronologically the timeline of the film seems to jump rather quickly and erratically, like that snail was riding a drunk kangaroo.  I have no idea how much time has actually passed during the film – it could just as easily be a few days as a few months.

I’m certainly all in when it comes to an introspective end of the world think piece that trades zombies and explosions for character development.  Z for Zachariah instead gives us heavy handed symbolism and a deluge of vague ambiguity as the characters wade through bogged down encounters with one another.  There is very little actual communication.  Instead, the three of them seem to rely mostly on reading the glaring sentences between the lines, and picking up on terribly obvious metaphors.  The characters, in fact, seem to exist only to be terribly obvious metaphors and symbols.  Not in a clever way either.  The very obvious faith versus science versus desire things going on feel more trite than anything else.

It’s not that the film is “bad,” in the classical sense, it just falls very flat despite thinking it doesn’t.  With an ambiguous and unsatisfying ending that leaves you less curious and more just not caring, the whole venture is just rather dull.  It comes quietly, and goes out the same way before you realize it.  Despite the snail metaphor earlier, it doesn’t even leave an interesting trail behind.  Probably because it was bouncing on that kangaroo.

Mrs. Hamster says:

“Nothing happens.”

My rating: Two out of five hats

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Trailer:

Z for Zachariah survives in select theaters, August 28

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