The Zero Theorem Reviews
Qohen Leth is a hermit computer genius who lives in a futuristic, almost Orwellian society, and is looking for a reason to live, but when he manages to get a meeting with his boss, he offers him an opportunity that may provide him with a reason.
The pairing of one of the most creative directors working to date and one of the most fun to watch actors working right now is the main reason I wanted to watch this film, plus I was really curious to see why was this film is so hated, and after watching it I don't completely get it. "The Zero Theorem" counts with a solid performance by the charismatic Christoph Waltz, Gilliamīs directing is as irreverent as ever, Gilliamīs trademark visual style is tamed by the concept of the film itself but still he manages to deliver some gorgeous visuals within this limitations, the story can only be described as a mixture of Aronofskyīs debut "Pi" with Gilliamīs masterpiece "Brazil" (I don't get why people claim this is a difficult film to follow, is extremely straightforward), the character evolution of Waltz is really interesting to witness, and the small amount of comedy are actually hilarious (Tilda Swinton is hilarious in her small cameo). But still, this film suffers from major problems: It has serious pacing issues as at time it tries to be a psychological thriller but then it goes to the Gilliam quirky style, the themes are executed poorly, some characters are useless as they literally disappear from the film, and overall the cliché but still interesting philosophical questions presented at the beginning are completely dropped, which as I mentioned in my "Ex Machina" review is extremely frustrating as they are meaningless in this narrative.
"The Zero Theorem" is a surprisingly tamed Terry Gilliam film that has some interesting ideas but overall is quite forgettable. It is by no means Gilliamīs worst film (I doubt he will ever make a film as bad as "Brothers Grimm") but quite possibly his most forgettable work to date (right next to the already mentioned "Brothers Grimm" and "Jabberwocky").
Initially it is intriguing but the pay-off is weak. It's Douglas Adam's question about what is the meaning of life and everything? That's a long row to hoe, and it appears that such an absurd, unanswerable question needs to be handled with some humour (the answer being, of course, 42) or else the pay-off is weak.
The question lingers as the overarching theme of the movie, but it is really the relationship between Qohen and Bainsley that is the most revealing. Both are dysfunctional and at a loss for happiness, but it is only in this coming together of losses, if you will, where mutual meaning is found. Kind of matter / anti-matter joining to create a coherent whole.
But while this relationship is afoot, as Qohen looks for meaning in trying to discover the zero theorem, or so he supposes, his faith lies in a call that he feels will inform him of his purpose or meaning of life, at least for him. Interesting that it is Bainsley who will give him the greatest resolution and calm, as he attempts to avoid her at all cost.
Eventually he meets Management (Matt Damon); Qohen discovers that the theorem he is attempting to solve has nothing to do with discovering a purposeful meaning of life but rather quite the opposite. Management is actually trying to prove that there is no meaning to life and uses Qohen (the antithesis) and his unrelenting need to find meaning against him. When Qohen discovers this, he becomes so upset he smashes the Neural Net which collapses, revealing a black hole inside; the same black hole Qohen often dreamed about. It is in this ending, the collapse of the universe, the end of all meaning, where Qohen finds meaning, for as the credits role he hears the voice of Bainsley, his love, or that which brings meaning to his life. While all this great seeking and questioning is going on to find meaning or to reveal meaninglessness, it is in the simple and slight where greatest meaning is found: a connection between two small, simple sentient beings.
A good film with an interesting twist, but the question is just how many would find any great meaning in viewing the film. An ironic question indeed.
Terry Gilliam was always a brilliant stylist and even his worst films had there fair share of breathtaking imagery(and some nice ideas, here and there) and one can notice that in "Zero Theorem" as well in scenes of sheer beauty and in a "Dark Side of Fellini" way of imagining our future.
What makes "Zero Theorem" stand apart is that, underneath the seeming chaos, there is a very well thought out film, a film unafraid to show its "sensitive side" in scenes of great emotional power.
On the other hand, the wave of complaints about this flick being to muddled, experimental, incomprehensible is unfounded. Actually, while some things about it are, indeed, eerie, the film is not difficult to get, nor is its logic too "exotic". That it is an unusual film, yes, that's true. But that's not to say is one without interest or point, for that matter.
Actually, from it's very opening act, "Zero Theorem" is very firm and clear on the path it will follow and the ideas it will exhibit. Yes, those ideas as not new, but this is irrelevant: if you are looking for a new message, stop watching movies, cause no film will give you that. No film should. What this film does - and does very well, by the way - is to create the perfect world to mirror these ideas.
I said before that there is a method to this seeming chaos, because the film progresses in a certain way. It starts from being noisy, frantic, surreal, but, little by little, it becomes clearer and more compelling. It mirrors its protagonist, also.
I am giving max. rating and I admit it might be a bit too much, but I think cinema needs more films like this and more directors bold enough to follow their own vision, instead of listening to billboard charts, pop prizes and other things alike.
My two cents: 5/5.