Reel Shorts | Z for Zachariah


Three survivors of an apocolyptic event figure out how to work together in the thoughtful drama, Z for Zachariah.

Years after all mankind has been wiped out by nuclear exposure, a lone female farmer, Ann (Margot Robbie) and her trusty dog are going about their business in solitude. Able to avoid disaster because of the location of her farm, Ann tends to her fields and tries to make the best of her lonely situation.

All that changes when she encounters a scientist, Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) whose life she saves after he mistakenly bathes in radioactive water. After years of caring for only herself, she takes special pleasure in having companionship and someone else to look after.

Soon the two begin to bond and they begin making plans for the future, but Craig Zobel carefully leaves breadcrumbs raising suspicions of Loomis’ motives. Is he there to help or harm his new friend?

Just as the two grow comfortable with each other, another person is introduced into the mix when the mysterious drifter, Caleb (Chris Pine) shows up. Working mile deep in a mine, he was able to survive and is headed South to meet other military survivors. Kind-hearted Ann invites him to be a guest for several days while he may have other ideas.

Nissar Modi’s script is full of contrasts and he boldly doesn’t gloss over them. Ann is the daughter of a preacher and a woman of faith, Loomis is not a believer. While her perspective is hopeful, Loomis’ is clearly pessimistic.

These differences truly play out when Caleb comes on the scene. Loomis, who initially rebuffs Ann’s advances, can’t handle her attention for Caleb, even pushing her to her “White” counterpart.

Zobel, who created amazing tension in Compliance, doesn’t reach those lofty heights in the story but gets solid performances from all of the principles, most notably Ejiofor and Robbie. While the two on the surface appear to be an odd couple, they ultimately complement one another.

Although The World, The Flesh and The Devil was a noble attempt to comment on race with Harry Belafonte, Mel Ferrer and Inger Stevens, this film delves into human nature and the things one will do to survive.

A wonderful rumination on faith and works as well as the human condition, Z for Zachariah may paint a complex future but at least Zobel’s vision is a hopeful one!

Grade: B