The Zero Theorem

by missizziemcguinness


‘Why would you want to prove that all is for nothing?’

Terry Gilliam directs this fantasy film about a reclusive, bald and grumpy computer programmer called Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), living in a burnt out chapel (where the only other guests are the rodents that scrounge around),  who is assigned by his employer, or Management to discover the meaning of life while trying to  solve the mysterious ‘zero theorem’, and waiting for a phone call to prove the meaning of exsistance, but gets distracted by a lusty ‘call girl’ called Bainsley (Melanie Thierry) and a teenager.

There have been many reviews about this movie, some trying to psychoanalyse and compare this to Gilliam’s other work i.e.. Brazil, 12 Monkeys, while others say that this is Terry Gilliam’s worst, he is washed out, and their hour and forty minutes was wasted etc. I don’t really know what to think about this film, apparently it had hidden themes of different sorts, but it was very under advertised, with dodgy release dates and on limited release, but I could see why, it doesn’t appeal to a wide enough audience to be hyped up. In some places I found that it was rather slow, forgettable, often the film was hard to get into, and generally I thought that it was the type of film where the length of the film was enough.

The choice of cast, however, was good enough to be passable. Christoph Waltz, who shaved his hair and eyebrows off for the role, and also co produces it, presents a character slightly different from his other ones, not in the way that he was hairless, but he does not go round killing anyone, (except for his computer), or is the bad guy. He speaks in a different way, in the plural form.As a fan of his films, I watched it when given to me on my birthday, and saw as he began to somewhat become insane in his chapel, working out the theorem, and it comes to the conclusion that it was mostly his inner thoughts,or several visions of virtual reality, and it (spoiler) wasn’t even real. Melanie Thierry was good as well, but I was particularly also amazed by Lucas Hedges, the boy who plays Bob, the 15 year old son of Mangement.

I did not find any deeper meaning in the film as a casual viewer, except for the reoccurring black hole symbolism. To a film student, it is art, to me, it is Gilliam’s mind coming into action with a couple of good actors to finish the masterpiece. Other less minor parts such as Ben Whinshaw, despite his small role as one of the doctors, his character added to the importance of Qohen’s existence and made me feel inspired to perhaps watch other Gilliam films.

The movie itself is not absolutely rubbish, (although the hour and forty minutes felt longer) but it wasn’t so amazing that I felt truly inspired and want to watch it every single day, because I have seen better.

Behind the screen is a colourful nightmare, and beyond the screen is Gilliam’s ideas which he has shared with his viewers. Maybe Gilliam allows us to question our own existence, or not.

Great cast, funny, weird and slightly explicit, with other cast members including Tilda Swinton as his virtual therapist .