There has been very little fuss surrounding ‘Z For Zachariah’, a film which has almost intentionally carved a silent path into cinemas. Which is surprising, given the fact it stars three very recognisable, and equally, talented actors. And yet, I’ve literally had no one to discuss this film with. Honestly, I had very little idea what the story was about really, apart from that it was set in some kind of apocalyptic world. It looked – and the rare review I had managed to find supported my assumption – as though this would be a quite dark, unusual, artistic film, with a storyline full of tension. And a part of me also suspected there may be some zombies, though I prayed that wouldn’t be the case.
Anne (Margot Robbie) is all alone, the sole heir to her daddy’s farm, and quite possibly the only person left on the planet for all she knows. A mysterious epidemic has swept the surrounding area, contaminating the air and water supplies. But Anne and the valley around her are miraculously safe from this poisonous plague. When John (Chiwetel Ejiofor) stumbles into her life, donning a head to toe quarantine suit, she is delighted, and steers him through a debilitating infection. The two fall for each other, and are patiently waiting to repopulate the earth, when an even more peculiar man enters her life. Caleb (Chris Pine) is charming and far More outgoing than John, but he’s also one hell of a cockblock. And now Anne must choose between these two newfound love interests, before they choose for her.
Margot cuts a quite reserved and delicate figure throughout. You can really sense the difficulty she faces in choosing between the two men, as well as her desperation and will to survive. It’s a far cry from her amusing role in ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’, but dramatic roles are seemingly no match for her either. I have Never seen Chiwetel Ejiofor in anything before (not even 12 Years A Slave’), but I was impressed on this showing. A brooding and profound performance transmits intelligence and pragmatism, as well as a strong emotional range. The one person I wasn’t convinced of beforehand was Chris Pine. Captain Kirk doing drama? I wasn’t buying it. I really enjoyed his performances in the new ‘Star Trek’ series, and he’s one of the highlights of the poor ‘Horrible Bosses 2’, but he’s more of a charming, funny man, surely. However, once I got over this prejudice, he won me round with an enigmatic and at times, rather dark display.
The whole film is beautifully shot, enhanced by stunning landscapes, and fantastic camera work to capture it all. The eerie tone of the film was not only created by the storyline, but also complimented perfectly by the isolated aura of the surroundings and a gentle, haunting musical score. Ambiguous narratives are a precarious approach to storytelling; you can either enthral and grip an audience, or push them away and leave them feeling lost. Director Craig Zobel, in this case, strikes a good balance. I thought I knew where this film was going, and I got parts of it right, but the means to the end wasn’t what I expected, as such. There is no real ending, actually, but the kind of film this is, it doesn’t necessarily need a clear cut ending.
There are no edge of your seat moments with ‘Z For Zachariah’, and nothing to raise the heart rate particularly. The film instead just flows nicely, at a steady pace, maintaining an air of intrigue throughout. I wouldn’t watch it again, but I would recommend anyone watching it once. Oh, and there’s no zombies, you may be happy to know.
Director: Craig Zobel
Starring: Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine