Movie Review: The Zero Theorem

Oct 3, 2014

Where, you may ask, has been director Terry Gilliam of late? He’s had a couple of misfires that never finished production, particularly his Don Quixote film. But he’s back with a new film titled The Zero Theorem, which takes him back into the realm of existential science fiction. In fact, he refers to this film as the third leg of a trilogy, which started with Brazil and continued with The Twelve Monkeys.

In The Zero Theorem, a computer hacker in the future is retained to prove the title equation, which is that zero equals 100%. He’s an anti-social sort who refers to himself in the empirical plural…we and our. He works for The Management, and has an overseer who is charged with making sure he completes his task.

The terrific cast includes two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz in the lead, and he’s already on my short list of actors for whom I would pay money to listen to him read the phone book. It’s a fascinating performance of a complex individual. His overseer is British thespian David Thewlis, most noted for his work in Mike Leigh’s Naked, and is a joy to watch. Matt Damon personifies the Management. And yes, there’s a couple of scenes with the cinematic chameleon queen Tilda Swinton as a computer-generated psychiatrist. And look quickly for a brief cameo by Robin Williams.

The Zero Theorem is an art director’s dream. It obviously borrows from Brazil, but throws in some Blade Runner, a splash of Moulin Rouge, and some spectacular CGI computer effects. It’s a treat to watch. Will you like this film? Not if you’re an Adam Sandler fan. But if you like Gilliam, and/or the films of David Lynch, David Cronenberg, and others, it should be right up your alley.

Now, you’re asking, where do you see this film? Easy…in your living room. It’s available on Video On Demand from most cable or satellite providers, and is probably not likely to reach a theatre screen in Cincinnati. It is, after all, a Brave New World of digital delivery for films.