Blu-ray Review: ‘The Zero Theorem’ Is A Beautiful And Well Imagined Story

It is never a bad thing when Terry Gilliam directs a science fiction film. His previous works in the genre including ‘Brazil’ and ’12 Monkeys’ are cult classics dripping with unique visions and dystopian futures that both intrigue and amaze. ‘The Zero Theorem’ is the newest addition to his list of such films and it is a treat for fans of Gilliam and his unique brand of science fiction.

Set in some unfortunate future, Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) is a talented computer hacker that suffers from multiple psychological issues and a growing sense of resentment towards the company that employs him. Qohen has been waiting for an important phone call, one he has been expecting for most of his life, and the hours spent at work increase the risk of his missing the call, as well as simply wasting his time as he is more productive at home. His boss, the wonderfully mysterious and detached gentleman known simply as Management (Matt Damon), agrees to let Qohen work from home on the condition that he undertake work on the greatest problem facing the company and all of mankind, the zero theorem. Focused only on his obsession with the phone call, Qohen agrees, and begins work attempting the arduous theorem. His work, and his life, get even more complicated as Management sends both a virtual prostitute and a young computer prodigy to help Qohen.

Like most of Gilliam’s previous films there is a lot of satire and philosophy bubbling beneath the surface of the overall plot. The big ideas analyzed here include notions of faith, consumerism, and what it means to be alive. While understanding these themes is not essential to enjoying the movie (it is a fascinating film on its own), it certainly enhances the experience.

Christoph Waltz, it almost need go without saying, is fantastic in the lead role. His character is both depressing and charming at the same time. He is a character that should be nearly unrelatable given the circumstances of the film, and yet he has an obtuse likeability that slowly fosters feelings of sympathy towards his plight. He is both foreign and familiar, which is just how Qohen should feel to an audience.

‘The Zero Theorem’ may not be the best science fiction film that Terry Gilliam has directed, but it certainly is a competitor. It illustrates a beautiful and well-imagined yet flawed and dystopian future that serves as a true compliment to the story. The themes it draws on are familiar, but its approaches are anything but. While this is not a film that everyone will enjoy, the audience that it was made for will certainly love it.

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