"Z For Zachariah" Review

When you’re out on the lake fishing, you have to be patient sometimes, but the wait is worth it when you catch one. “Z for Zachariah” is the type of slow burn thriller that slowly gets you invested in its characters and hooks you in without realizing it. With a stellar cast, and breath stopping tension, it’s certainly a film to see! 

After an unknown disaster wipes out most of civilization, Anne Burden (Margot Robbie) survives on her father’s farm, an unaffected sliver of the world. She hunts, works the land and stays busy with her dog. As far as she knows she’s the only person alive, until a man named Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor) comes along in a laboratory made, radiation safety suit. 

After mistakenly bathing in polluted water, Anne nurses Loomis back to health. It’s just the kind of kind act that can create a spark of romance in a world left to two people. Loomis is an intelligent man. He helps the pure hearted and deeply religious Anne around the house by doing things like getting her plow running. Just as their connection starts to grow into love, a mysterious wanderer named Caleb (Chris Pine) comes upon the farm. 

As a love triangle starts to take shape, a competition between Loomis and Caleb does as well. The linchpin of the film is superb performances from its cast and pace. Director Craig Zobel is no stranger to unnerving tension. His 2012 film “Compliance” certainly was filled with it, and with “Z” he’s honed it. Zobel knows how to let a scene breathe and not only direct his cast, but his audience’s thoughts and emotions as well in what he chooses to show. 

Robbie, Ejiofor and Pine bring three uniquely different and fleshed out characters to the film. It’s never about what they’re saying so much as what they’re thinking or omitting from their conversations together that really pulls you in. You’re left without a doubt that Margot Robbie is more than the beautiful face that recent blockbusters have sold her as. In this role, she looses the makeup and gives an excellent performance as a woman stuck between the world before disaster and after, and eventually the two men. Ejiofor brings his usual polarizing presence to the flawed Loomis. Pine has just the right amount of boy next door charm, sprinkled with just beneath the surface darkness that makes his character a worthy wrench in what appears to be a happily ever after between Anne and Loomis.

“Z For Zachariah” shows what you can do with a talented storyteller in the director’s chair, and an equally talented cast. It’s a good reminder that sometimes a simple, minimalist approach can entertain more than crowded, action sequences and explosions! The fact that only three characters make the story, should be an instant grab for any indie filmmaker. Yet, the film’s ability to entertain on various levels of complexity and evoke near tangible suspense, makes it one to see for anyone!

Rating: A


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Kevin Sampson

The fact that Kevin Sampson is not just a film critic, but a writer, producer, and director as well makes his understanding of cinema even better. Coming from a theoretical and hands on approach, he understands both sides of the struggle of viewing and creating great works. After receiving an MFA in Film & Electronic Media from American University in Washington, D.C in 2011, Kevin took his love for film to the next level by creating and producing Picture Lock, an entertainment website, podcast, and hour long film review TV show that runs on Arlington Independent Media’s public access station in Arlington, VA. The show covers new releases, classic films, and interviews with local filmmakers in the DMV area. He is also a member of the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association and African American Film Critics Association. He is currently looking forward to filming his first feature film in the near future. He believes that film is one of the most powerful art forms in the world, and he hopes that he can use the craft to inspire others and make a difference in it.