Z for Zachariah

Watched Z for Zachariah on streaming last night (it is also in very limited theatrical release). This is a movie about a girl alone in a valley that miraculously survives a nuclear war. Then a stranger shows up in a radiation suit. It’s based on a very good young adult novel from the mid 70s and I’ll do my best to divorce that book from memory when talking about the movie (since they only share a premise).

The movie stars Margot Robbie as the West Virginia (probably) farm girl in the valley, Chiwetel Ejiofor as the mysterious stranger… and that handsome devil Chris Pine as yet another survivor who shows up later. When Pine shows up, you think you know where the movie is going – two guys, one girl, one post-apocalyptic scenario. But this movie is smarter than that.

This a very good looking movie set on location somewhere probably in the Appalachians. The acting is first rate – there’s more said with glances than there is with dialog. The script is good… but there’s too much movie and not enough plot for this relatively simple story. I wish it would have held up the entire length but i got frustrated and bored with the pacing as it kept going and going. It’s a little too art house for the content and story.

Not that I needed the “fist fight to prove the love for the girl” plot that I thought the movie was going to give us. I’m appreciative of the nebulous and uncertain approach to movie takes to its storyline. I just think it needed a little more something to get it over the 90 minute hump.

Now, as an adaptation of the book, the movie is both a success and a failure. I think taking the premise of the book and expanding a story can work and it does for awhile. But given that the book only had two characters (sorry Chris Pine) and a drastically different ending, I can’t help judge it an inferior product. But that’s from someone who really loved that book. This is only a fault in comparison though – without that foreknowledge of the book, I still think I’d have found the movie a little too long but I can accept it as an interesting “what if” diversion.

Overall, I liked a significant enough portion of this movie that if you don’t mind a languid, beautiful looking movie with some top rate acting, you might want to give it a look. I can’t say it won’t bore you at times, but it’s worth a look.

Score: 75

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