Z for Zachariah Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Chris Pine. Directed by Craig Zobel. Rated PG-13. Available on Video on Demand.
Based loosely on the 1974 novel by Robert C. O’Brien, Z for Zachariah takes place in a world devastated by some sort of nuclear disaster, but its main characters live in an idyllic valley untouched by the outside world. That’s where Ann (Margot Robbie) works alone on her family farm, waiting in vain for her father and brother to return from a mission to locate more survivors. Instead, she encounters scientist John (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and, later, miner Caleb (Chris Pine).
Their inevitable love triangle is a somewhat disappointing use of the post-apocalyptic setting, but director Craig Zobel and screenwriter Nissar Modi use the story to explore issues of religion, race and gender in an often sensitive, understated way, and the gorgeous cinematography by Tim Orr makes Ann’s valley look like a genuine Eden. It’s not, of course, which is what makes the story both powerful and, eventually, a bit too contrived.