Before Zelda Fitzgerald, the glamorous, mentally-ill wife of F. Scott, there was Zelda Sayre, the spoiled Southern belle. In Z
, based on the novel by Therese Anne Fowler, viewers learn about Zelda (Christina Ricci) as a wild child teen in 1918 Montgomery, Alabama and her romance with the acclaimed Gatsby
novelist. Like a true flapper-in-the-making, Zelda likes to drink, smoke, swim naked and support the soldiers by dancing with and kissing them in public.
Much of Z
(billed as a comedy but feels more like a drama) explores her restless life with two friends, Livye (Sleepy Hollow
’s Maya Kazan) and Ellie (Sarah Schenkkan), and her strained relationship with a scolding father (David Straitharn), who’s not afraid to call her a hussy. Ricci makes a fine free spirit (with a strong Southern accent), if overly melancholic, but Gavin Stenhouse, as the little-seen Scott, is a tad stoic compared to the real hard-partying persona. While it’s admirable to shine a spotlight on Zelda, who some believe has been misunderstood and misrepresented, it’s problematic when the pilot's minor details (like costumes and sets) seem more compelling than the actual story. —Sherry Huang