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.