Movie Synopsis: After a nuclear war, Ann is left alone in a small town, when Loomis arrives. Ann and Loomis live together and farm the land, when another man, Caleb arrives shaking things up.
Note: Spoilers abound for both the book and the movie! You’ve been warned!
Movie Review: I have absolutely no idea what I just watched. I had a hunch after seeing the trailers that this movie would be disappointing, but I was not expecting Z for Zachariah to be absolutely terrible. I think this may be the stupidest movie I’ve ever seen, and without a doubt the worst book adaptation ever. Z for Zachariah is based on, although more accurately it should just be “loosely inspired by”, the book by Robert C. O’Brien. I loved the book; you can read my review of the book here. The only thing remotely resembling the book is perhaps the first ten minutes of the movie. Everything else is unrecognizable.
Z for Zachariah the book is a suspenseful cat-and-mouse story, a book that only has two characters, a man and a woman, and the female character is full of smarts and bravery. The female character in the movie however has none. Everything she does around the farm seems to be at the behest of Loomis, a male character. One wonders how on earth she survived for so long without Loomis to take care of her and her farm. The movie even goes so far as to show Loomis doing all of the work, and Ann lounging about, taking walks, and reading books instead of helping around the farm. A vast departure from the book where Ann did all of the work and Loomis did nothing but tell her how it should be done.
And once another man, Caleb, enters their world things get plain bizarre. First, Caleb just appears, while Loomis arrived with his safe-suit and machine, which protected him from radiation. Why was Caleb not sick? How did he survive? If Loomis was a shell of a man when he arrived, with the suit, how on earth did Caleb get there perfectly healthy without any protection? Perhaps he is magic. Or perhaps he arrived via spaceship, because it felt like this was written by aliens, or maybe by someone who read the title, heard what the book was about, and then decided to make the man the hero instead of the girl.
Caleb, with his shifty eyes, is working Loomis and Ann against each other, and the why for this is never fully explained, except for maybe, you guessed it, sex. And don’t even get me started on the ridiculous message that a woman who has two men around her must want to sleep with both men. And the men never pursue her – oh no, they are too good for that. They wait for her to pursue them. Uggh. What a terrible message this movie has. And the book has such a strong female character! The movie sacrifices that strong female character for a strong, justified Loomis. This becomes Loomis’ story, not Ann’s. The one positive is Chiwetel Ejiofor’s performance as Loomis. Even though I did not agree with the changes to Loomis’ character, Ejiofor was very good in the role. What he could’ve done with an accurately written Loomis. That’s a movie I’d love to see!
I just do not understand why on earth this movie was even made. Did anyone involved in this read the book and speak up about this terrible interpretation? I mean really, the book has two characters. (SPOILERS HERE) Why, oh why would you mess with the powerful story of a girl who is basically self-sufficient, an older man arrives on the scene, she saves his life, he becomes controlling and paranoid, attempts to rape Ann, she escapes and outsmarts him, steals his suit, and leaves her safe valley for a chance at life on the outside, potentially dooming the entire human race. Why would you swap that story for a love triangle with zero chemistry that ends in a ridiculous murder? Or perhaps it wasn’t murder. Perhaps the one character returned to his home planet as the scene just ends and there is zero sense to be made. I mean really, if he fell, there’s no recovery of the suit or the body because he fell into the contaminated water, and it is too dangerous to recover the body and the suit. So, no way to hide the murder. But all Ann does is lounge about, so she would never go to the wagon wheel and investigate.
Please someone make a faithful adaptation of this marvelous book. It could truly be a suspenseful human story about survival, but, in the book, Ann (gasp!) actually uses her brains and (oh my word!!) decides to pursue life without a man, and no one would want to see that. Sigh.
Bottom Line: Completely ridiculous with a terrible message. Read the book, it is marvelous.
Have you watched the movie? Read the book? Are you as disappointed as I am, or did you actually like all of the changes they made?