OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Z For Zachariah

After the end of the world she thought she was alone. She was wrong.

Ann Burden (Margot Robbie) is surviving on her own in a valley in the American south in the wake of an unspecified apocalyptic disaster. One day, a man in a radiation suit stumbles her way. It is Loomis (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who was working in a government bunker during the time of the initial devastation.

Poster art for Z For ZachariahHe gets sick from radiation poisoning, but she invites him into the house and slowly they begin to trust one another, even become somewhat domestic. She may not survive another winter, but a nearby poisoned waterfall may be their saviour. If they build a waterwheel, they would have power, but that would mean tearing down a local chapel and using the wood. Despite the clear transubstantiation metaphor, this still doesn’t fly with Ann, who still clings to her Christian faith in the face of all this suffering.

Just as the sexual tension between the two seems to have reached its breaking point, there enters a third party. Caleb (Chris Pine) finds his way to ‘the holler’ and it’s hard to tell at first if he’s a threat. In contrast to Loomis he shares Ann’s faith – or maybe he’s just saying so. Maybe he’s just a nice (extremely handsome) guy, or maybe he’s scheming to bump Loomis out of the way to win Ann. Maybe Loomis realises Caleb is a better match for Ann, or maybe Loomis’s about to recognize he truly loves her.

That’s a lot of maybes, but these small psychological moves are the meat of the tale. Though occasionally erring on the side of soap opera, the depth of this fictional world, and all three of the performances, make for compelling viewing.

– Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian

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