Here’s your first look at footage of Chiwetel Ejiofor, along with Chris Pine and, an actress who seems to be Hollywood’s new *it* girl, Margot Robbie, in Material Pictures’ and Zik Zak Filmworks’ “Z For Zachariah” – a psychological thriller about a woman (played by Robbie) who, in the wake of a nuclear war, survives on her own, fearing she may actually be the proverbial last woman on earth, until she discovers the most astonishing sight of her life: another human being. A distraught scientist (played by Ejiofor), he’s nearly been driven mad by radiation exposure, and his desperate search for others. They 2 develop a relationship. But when another survivor (Chris Pine) also turns up, their precarious bond begins to unravel.
Making its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, earlier this year, and based on novel of the same name, here’s a longer breakdown of the story, courtesy of an Amazon review, which includes plot points you may not want to know before seeing the movie (you’ve been warned): “Years after a nuclear war has left much of the USA a wasteland, 16-year-old Ann, who narrates in the form of diary entries, lives alone in a rural valley. Ann’s family left and never returned, and she’s learned to subside by herself. After a year of this, however, an intruder shows up. The intruder is a man named Mr. Loomis, a scientist who’s developed a radiation-proof suit. Ann’s valley is secluded enough that the radiation suffusing much of the rest of the world hasn’t reached it. The nearby creek, though, is contaminated, and Mr. Loomis makes the mistake of swimming in it. He gets really sick, and the humanistic Ann, who’s been surreptitiously watching Mr. Loomis’ doings from a cave, is moved to help him. So begins an initially convivial relationship between Ann and Mr. Loomis that grows increasingly strained. The man gradually reveals himself as a selfish, controlling asshole, and eventually tries to rape Ann. She breaks free, and is forced to confront a far darker, scarier existence than the one she knew. Ann’s rocky adaptation to the bleak realities of Mr. Loomis’ mood swings, and her entire reality, is a large part of what makes this such a compulsive read. Ann’s life experience is so limited she has trouble fathoming how anyone can possibly be as rotten as Mr. Loomis turns out to be, but learns her lesson in the lethally suspenseful climax. As an exercise in dark and contained minimalism Z FOR ZACHARIAH (which won the Edgar Allen Poe Award) is nearly in a class by itself. The prose is unerringly spare and intense, and while it’s unlikely a teenage girl could write diary entries as erudite as those of this novel, Ann’s quaintly naïve voice and worldview are quite convincing. Mr. Loomis is likewise an extremely well-rounded character, even if he does share some annoying traits common to genre novel bad guys, namely monotone speech patterns and the inability to conjugate his words. There’s also the problem of the rushed and unsatisfying ending. That’s likely due to the fact that Robert O’Brien died before the novel was complete. The final passages were filled in by his widow and one of his daughters, who clearly did the best job they could. As for what Z FOR ZACHARIAH might have been had its talented author lived, we can only guess.”
So, unless the feature film adaptation (which I have yet to see) strays from the original source novel, it looks like Mr Loomis, Ejiofor’s character, will be the main antagonist, which will be an interesting switch for the actor, who’s typically on the side of the good (although he also played bad guys in films like “Serenity”).
The film is directed by Craig Zobel (“Compliance”) from a script penned by Nissar Modi.
Material Pictures’ Tobey Maguire and Matthew Plouffe are producing alongside Zik Zak Filmworks’ Skúli Malmquist, Thor Sigurjonsson and Palomar Pictures’ Joni Sighvatsson.
Gary Ross and Lucky Hat Entertainment’s Stephen Bannatyne are executive producing, along with Silver Reel’s Claudia Bluemhuber and Lotus Entertainment’s Jim Seibel and Bill Johnson.
“Z For Zachariah” opens on August 21st.
It should be a good year for Chiwetel, as he stars or co-stars in at least 3 high-profile projects, including “The Martian,” “The Secret in Their Eyes” and “Triple Nine,” all of which are also scheduled for release in 2015.
Here’s the film’s first trailer, promising what should be a well-acted, tense thriller: