Sometimes you just need to escape the world, so you turn on a post-apocalyptic movie. Z for Zachariah, based on an award-winning book, is unfortunately not a great escape. It’s not even a good one. Instead, it takes what could be an intriguing premise and turns it into a meandering story with an ambiguous ending.
The plot: Ann (Margot Robbie, unrecognizable under a baseball cap and a thick Southern accent) is the last woman in the world. Ann is immune to the radioactive materials that destroyed the planet, and she lives with her dog until she finds John (Chiwetel Ejiofor), a scientist. Eventually, they fall into a working relationship. Life moves along at a mundane though slightly happier pace until Ann discovers a miner, Caleb (Chris Pine, with an equally thick Southern accent). He ends up joining the group, despite John’s protest. The men battle for Ann’s love, but unexplained backstory makes scenes fall flat.
With only three characters onscreen, dialogue scenes are surprisingly few and far between. Sparse conversations between characters are beyond convincing. I wanted to learn how the world fell into disrepair, but director Craig Zobel wanted to focus on human nature.
Ann and Caleb agree: all you need is faith. But maybe some trust and pixie dust could have made this story soar instead of snooze. The reflective nature of the film somewhat justifies its vague conclusion, but like most book-to-film adaptations, the book is probably better. The power of the written word is difficult to translate to the screen, which may explain why Z for Zachariah ends up disappointingly lackluster.
Z for Zachariah is now streaming on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
Author Bio: Claire Ebbitt is an admirer of Harry Potter, British actors, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Shakespeare.