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

Tuesday, Sep 16 2014

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.


About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly


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