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"The Zero Theorem": Terry Gilliam Searches for the Meaning of Life and Blondes 

Tuesday, Sep 16 2014
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The Zero Theorem is Terry Gilliam's first dystopian film since 1985's Brazil — 1995's Twelve Monkeys doesn't count because it's pre-post-apocalyptic, not dystopian — but while the technology both onscreen and off is updated, the satire never quite lands the way it should. In a future London, Qohen (Christoph Waltz) is an angst-ridden, socially stunted computer programmer who lands his dream position of telecommuting from home (an abandoned chapel), working on a special project from Management (Matt Damon): to mathematically prove that life is meaningless. Familiar Gilliam signifiers on display include low, wide-angle shots, beautiful sets art-directed within an inch of their lives, and a befuddled protagonist being cornered by a fast-talker who isn't actually saying much of anything, in this case Qohen's supervisor Joby (David Thewliss, always welcome in a loquacious role). We even get a bonus of Tilda Swinton, still wearing her buck teeth from Snowpiercer, as a computerized therapist. Unfortunately, the picture goes off the rails with the introduction of call-girl-with-a-heart-of-gold Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry) as a major character, because what Qohen obviously needs to get out of his shell is a big-breasted blonde in a rubber nurse's uniform. In the end, for all its interesting yet largely unexplored ideas, The Zero Theorem doesn't really add up to anything. Then again, maybe that's point.

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Sherilyn Connelly

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