The Zero Theorem

Critics Consensus

Fans of director Terry Gilliam's trademark visual aesthetic will find everything they've bargained for, but for the unconverted, The Zero Theorem may prove too muddled to enjoy.



Total Count: 126


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,645
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Movie Info

Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)'s madcap science fiction epic The Zero Theorem stars two- time Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz as Qohen Leth, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst. Living in isolation in a burnt-out church, Qohen is obsessively working on a mysterious project personally delegated to him by Management (Matt Damon) aimed at discovering the meaning of life - or the complete lack of one - once and for all. Increasingly disturbed by unwanted visits from people he doesn't fully trust, including flirtatious Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry), Management's wunderkind son Bob (Lucas Hedges), his unpredictable colleague Job (David Thewlis), and would-be digital therapist Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton), it's only when he experiences the power of love and desire that he's able to understand his own reason for being. (c) Amplify

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Christoph Waltz
as Qohen Leth
Tilda Swinton
as Dr. Shrink-Rom
Matt Damon
as Management
Gwendoline Christie
as Street Commercial
Rupert Friend
as Street Commercial
Lily Cole
as Street Commercial
Ray Cooper
as Street Commercial
Margarita Doyle
as Mancom Computerized Lips
Emil Hostina
as Slim Clone
Dana Rogoz
as Pizza Girl
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News & Interviews for The Zero Theorem

Critic Reviews for The Zero Theorem

All Critics (126) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (63)

  • Say this for Terry Gilliam: Even when he repeats himself, he's unique.

    Oct 9, 2014 | Full Review…

    Ty Burr

    Boston Globe
    Top Critic
  • Gives one the sense that the ex-Monty Python-ite thinks he's at a filmmaker version of the Last Chance Saloon, manufacturing and recycling as fast as he can.

    Sep 25, 2014 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    John Anderson

    Top Critic
  • It's bursting with Gilliam's trademark manic energy, but the focus and execution are so soft that that energy ends up derailing the film instead of invigorating it.

    Sep 25, 2014 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The culture's caught up to Gilliam. Everybody's doing Orwell now. But Gilliam's appropriation feels both aptly skeptical and unfashionably utopian.

    Sep 24, 2014 | Full Review…
  • There is something so generous and so full-hearted in this profusion that to complain seems churlish, but "The Zero Theorem" has a bothersome ratio of misses to hits.

    Sep 22, 2014 | Full Review…
  • This "Theorem" is all sizzle, zero steak.

    Sep 19, 2014 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Zero Theorem

  • Feb 05, 2018
    When you watch a Terry Gilliam film, you should expect for there to be a fair amount of weirdness. When you add Science Fiction to the mix, there is the possibility that anything can happen. With this in mind, I was really excited to see The Zero Theorem, and what I got was simply one of the worst films I have ever seen! Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is a computer genius, who has been assigned by Management to discover the meaning of life. He does this alone in an old abandoned church. This movie made absolutely no sense to the point where I don't even know how the hell to describe it in any way that would do it justice. Waltz is running around like a madman the entire time, talking so fast, with that accent, that he's impossible to understand. He meets Tilda Swinton at some type of party, and she keeps showing up for some unknown reason, personally I just think it's because she's weird and she likes being in weird movies. Waltz has all these odd computer programs, strange characters he interacts with and talks non-sense with, all in a film that moves faster than his internet connection. I really just didn't understand a thing that was going on and watching it a number of times or doing any amount of any drug in the world wouldn't change that. How is a solitary man playing strange computer games supposed to discover the meaning of life? Who are all these people who keep showing up? What in the hell are they talking about, and what does anything have to do with anything? I'm not entirely sure that another person on this planet besides Terry Gilliam understands what was going on in this film. All I know is that no one should have ever been exposed to whatever this nightmare was intended to be.
    Todd S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 21, 2016
    As most of Gilliams work confusing plus it ended abruptly, yet weirdly wonderful, easy to watch, super colourful and the time did fly by.
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2015
    A solipsistic computer scientist is tasked to prove that humans' work amounts to nothing. Terry Gilliam's art department is on full display, but his skill as a story-teller isn't. The scene design pops, and Gilliam's frenetic future is both frighteningly possible and a visual feast. He moves the camera deftly but often, which seems contradictory. The story, however, is weird. Qohen's job looks like a video game with obscure math equations, and it only gains significance in the third act, and even then, the narrative has already been distracted by a ham-handed love plot that defies credibility (why is she apologizing and believing in the relationship when the previous scene involved his over-zealous advances?). It's all very pretty and confusing, which are the best two adjectives for Gilliam's work as a whole. Overall, some fun art direction doesn't save this weak story.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Mar 20, 2015
    It's the equivalent of biting into a delicious looking cake to find only air.
    Marcus W Super Reviewer

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