2014 / Director. Terry Gilliam.
Reviewed by Glenn Cochrane.
Like most good Terry Gilliam films THE ZERO THEOREM will fuck with your mind. Capping off his self-imposed "Dystopian Trilogy" (following BRAZIL and 12 MONKEYS) this new film proves that looks can be deceiving. With an incredible set design blended seamlessly against a digitally composed background the film could easily be mistaken for one of his most ambitious productions yet... however it is to the contrary. THE ZERO THEOREM is actually one of his most modest films with almost the entire story being shot on one sound-stage and Christoph Waltz commanding 100% of the screen time. The story tells of an introverted man who is overwhelmed and fearful of the modern world he lives in. With commercial advertising, social networking and handheld devices tearing away at the fabric of human existence he finds himself ostracised from the world and couped up in the surreal isolation of his disheveled cathedral home. When his employer grants his requests to work from home he is assigned to The Zero Theorem, a high tech computer program designed to unravel the meaning of life. In true Gilliam fashion the film showcases an assortment of bizarre characters, all of which are comical and cartoonish. Exactly what the film means is entirely on the onus of the viewer. Whether or not that is a cop-out is up for debate. Is the ambiguity of the story an excuse for Gilliam to flaunt his unique quirkiness or is there a deep meaning to be found? Whichever the case might be THE ZERO THEOREM is a feast for the eyes. With a knock-out performance from Christoph Waltz and flawless support from David Thewlis, Melanie Theirry and Lucas Hedges Gilliam has made a return to past sensibilities and crafted a film that assaults our senses. The aesthetic of the film is comical, yet the overall tone of the story feels deeply depressing. Every character throughout the film is happy and colourful and yet Christolph Waltz's character is in the depths of despair. Why is he so miserable? Surely the modern world around him abounds with luxury and connectivity. Why does he feel so disconnected when everyone elses lives are to the contrary? This film is definitely a reflection of our own society and it is absolutely a critical observation of where we've come to. The magic of THE ZERO THEOREM is that a thinking mind will not be satisfied with one viewing and it deserves to be seen several times over. Wonderful.