Z for Zachariah Review
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As the old saying goes, “Two is company, but three’s a crowd.” And for the trio of survivors in the post-apocalyptic drama Z for Zachariah, that’s still the case when those three people could possibly be the last three people on Earth.

Z for Zachariah stars Margot Robbie as Ann, a lonely young woman who somehow managed to survive a mysterious disaster that seems to have turned the rest of civilization into a radioactive wasteland. When John (Chiwetel Ejiofor) arrives in the valley, he gives Ann a reason to go on living—and, together, they work the fields to prepare for another harsh winter. Knowing that they could be the last two survivors, they gradually become more comfortable with one another. But when Caleb (Chris Pine) shows up, their peaceful existence turns into one of jealousy, suspicion, and competition.

  
 
Based on the 1974 novel by Robert C. O’Brien (author of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH), Z for Zachariah is far from the typical, Mad Max kind of post-apocalyptic thriller—set in dreary, burned-out landscapes filled with merciless men fighting for survival. Instead, it’s pastoral and serene—as well as quiet and deliberately paced. Ann spends her solitary life on a lush, green farm, surrounded by hills and forests and rushing streams. Though she sometimes takes the necessary precautions to venture into town to take books from the library, she remains safe on her farm living off the land.

But the film barely allows viewers time to settle into the serenity before John throws off Ann’s tranquil balance. The wandering scientist arrives in a big, shiny safety suit, bringing with him ideas about finding fuel for the tractor and a power source for the home—even though it means destroying her beloved chapel for materials. Despite their clear differences, he’s smart and hard-working and—most importantly—a much-needed companion for Ann. Before, they probably wouldn’t have ended up together. Now, the future of humanity could depend on them. And that makes for an uneasy relationship built on necessity.

Of course, just as they’re beginning to settle into their new relationship, Caleb brings yet another change. He and Ann have the same background and the same faith—and, of course, he’s ruggedly handsome. And their instant connection adds tension and suspense, increasing the mostly unspoken uneasiness of the situation as the story builds to its haunting conclusion.

Z for Zachariah isn’t a thrilling post-apocalyptic adventure. It’s quiet and simple and a little bit slow. But the striking setting and the trio of conflicting characters makes for a tense and thoughtful story about the quest for survival—and love.


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