Film Review: The Zero Theorem

The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam’s latest effort offers an existential crisis in a dystopian wonderland. The Zero Theorem is intriguing but imperfect.

Qohen Leth is continually searching for the reason for human existence. His desire to answer this question is interrupted by his increasing workload, including a new projected handed to him by Management…

Terry Gilliam’s films often inhabit fantasy and dystopian worlds, and The Zero Theorem adheres to this. The film focuses on real concerns through the guise of a futuristic environment.

The Zero Theorem is highly reminiscent of Brazil, both thematically and in some ways stylistically. The film almost functions as an update of the 1985 film to include contemporary technophobic and authoritarian concerns.

The Zero Theorem‘s narrative offers the audience enough to get their teeth into. With a core of existentialism, it is fascinating to see how Gilliam and screenwriter Pat Rushin will handle the big questions. There are some interesting ideas in The Zero Theorem, although any reveals are inevitably insubstantial given the subject at hand.

There is a slight lull in momentum before the climax. It is unclear where exactly the film is heading for large periods, but this adds to the intrigue.

Production design in The Zero Theorem is great. The world featured in the film futuristic and heavily reliant on technology. Qohen’s home acts as a nice antithesis to the outside world. The use of soundtrack is highly effective at the very end of the film. Christoph Waltz offers a competent performance as Qohen. He is ably supported by Mélanie Thierry and Tilda Swinton.

The Zero Theorem does not provide a substantial response to existential concerns, but the film is interesting and entrancing science fiction.

The Zero Theorem is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.

Film Review: The Double

The Double

Richard Ayoade’s The Double is compelling viewing. After his critically applauded debut Submarine, Ayoade showcases another string to his bow.

Simon is a timid young man, overlooked at work and invisible to the woman he adores. Simon is confounded by the arrival of a new colleague at work. James is physically identical to Simon, yet his exact opposite in terms of personality…

For his second feature, Richard Ayoade has tackled an adaptation of a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novella. The Double offers an interesting plot, and a narrative imbued with humour and tension.

Ayoade has created a dystopian world in The Double. The film owes a deby to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. This is particularly true of its satirising of bureaucracy. The environment in The Double is one of the past. Certain elements point to a 1980s setting, whilst other aspects indicate a decade or two before this. Notwithstanding, the world has a very distinctive look and feel.

The Double generates frequent laughs, thanks in part to Simon’s deadpan countenance and the Kafkaesque occurrences. Yet it is also successful in generating tension. It is not difficult to identify with Simon, a protagonist increasingly losing control as the film progresses.

Production design in The Double is fantastic. The sets and costumes create a memorable look for the film. Cinematography is also a highlight. The soundtrack is unusual, but in keeping with the bizarre world Simon inhabits.

Jesse Eisenberg is convincing as both Simon and James. The characters play to his dual strengths, allowing him to play both cocky and insecure. Mia Wasikowska is also great as Hannah.

The Double is a finely executed film. Highly recommended viewing.

The Double is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2013.

Film Review: Repo Men

If you are looking for a fast-paced violent thriller, and do not mind too much about originality, Repo Men is probably the film for you. If, however, you are expecting something more than this, you will most likely be disappointed by the end of this film.

Set in the near future, Remy, played by Jude Law, is works for a company that creates artificial organs. Along with partner Jake (Forest Whitaker), Remy repossess the organs of those who default on their payments. It is only after Remy has a heart replacement himself that he starts to have a conscious about what he and his partner do for a living…

The premise of the film is really quite interesting, until you realise how close it is to Repo! The Genetic Opera. Furthermore, elements of a number of other films appear to be present. Shots of the futuristic metropolis are immediately reminiscent of Blade Runner, whilst some of the technology can be likened to Total Recall.

Overall, the film imbues a feeling of technophobia. Like the aforementioned Blade Runner, as well as The Terminator and Brazil, there is a real sense of the ‘evil corporation’. Repo Men would, in fact, not be out of place with these mid- to early-1980s films. With a 2010 release, however, the ideas the film projects seem a little outdated.

Repo Men is an entertaining enough film, if it is not taken seriously. The action scenes well executed by director Miguel Sapochnik, and the performances are adequate. Furthermore, the soundtrack works well, using a range of songs from different eras to accompany at times disjointed scenes. The main problem with the film is that it is very much a case of ‘seen it all before’.