johnlink ranks THE ZERO THEOREM (2013)

Terry Gilliam doesn’t do normal. His ZERO THEOREM is no different. A movie set in a colorful future looking like a cross between FIFTH ELEMENT and MINORITY REPORT, this is one odd movie.

The Zero Theorem - 1

I watched THE ZERO THEOREM (2013) on 5.12.15. It was my first viewing of the film.

Qohen (Christoph Waltz) is a computer programmer who would much prefer to do his workload from the comfort of his own domain than ever leave it. Even if his boss (David Thewlis) can’t get his name right, he still thinks a lot of Qohen. So the boss helps arrange a meeting with Management (Matt Damon), who grants the request. Qohen is charged with working from home – almost nonstop – on trying to prove that all means nothing: The Zero Theorem.

The outside world of this futuristic land is bright and pink and loud and free. Some characters might find it a utopia. But Qohen hates it. He hates the noise, hates the bustle, hates the people. He received an ambiguous phone call when he was young, and he fully believes he will get another call, one which will give his life purpose.

Qohen makes some friends along the way. Bainsley (Melanie Thierry) is a working girl who sells herself via virtual internet experience. Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton) is a computer program which dispenses psychiatric advice. Bob (Lucas Hedges) is a young programmer, son of Management, who seems to take a liking to Cohen. These people bounce in and out of the home-office in a rotation which works to drive the movie forward.

Terry Gilliam directs this film with an eccentric fervor. The colors are bright, the canted angles are many, and the perspectives are often interesting. An early scene with an advertisement crawling across the wall following our protagonist is annoying in all the right ways. Moments of humor pop up at unexpected times. It is hard to get comfortable in ZERO THEOREM because we never quite know what will happen next.


The plot weaves a clear analogy to the Jesus story. Qohen wants to believe in a higher power. He wants an answer. Management literally watches everything (though he uses cameras) and judges his charges. Management’s son, Bob, is a kind-hearted guy who is a genius computer dude and has a near-death experience. The movie is about faith and it makes a very interesting statement about wether or not faith is rewarded.

ZERO THEOREM, though, is a movie which is more about its oddities than its themes. While the movie makes a point about blind following, it chooses to do so in a way that puts the visual above the idea. There is nothing inherently wrong in that – Gilliam’s choices make for a movie which is a marvel to look at – but it’s questionable wether there is a real depth to this movie beyond what is on the surface.

Either way, ZERO THEOREM is worth a watch. It is an interesting film which isn’t afraid to go in a direction that most major films wouldn’t. It is a valuable piece of visual art, at the very least.



The bonus point is for the visual stylings in the cinematography and the special effects which paint a complex aesthetic.


FINAL SCORE: 7 out of 10

~ by johnlink00 on May 14, 2015.

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