A computer hacker whose goal is to discover the meaning of human existence continually finds his work interrupted by Management: this time; they send a teenager and a lusty love interest to distract him.
"- How do you live with the emptiness?
- One day at a time"
I know I love film. I really do. But sometimes, I forget the feeling when you watch a movie so true, so exactly you at this exact point in time that you don't think anything else could ever be more perfect than this one movie in this one moment. Terry Gilliam's latest masterpiece, The Zero Theorem showed me that feeling again… I can count on one hand the number of times I've felt it. And I loved it.
Andrei Tarkovsky once said that he makes his films to bring people a reason to live, even if they sometimes bring sadness. I feel like Gilliam makes films to fulfill his own devilish desire to deconstruct how his audience view a film, as if he makes them just to fulfill his twisted inner self: in all of his films, at some point, I have felt pure, raw pain coupled with happiness - a melancholy of sorts: the final scene of 12 Monkeys. The Waltz scene in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. The final ten minutes of The Zero Theorem. All is for nothing.
The Zero Theorem does, indeed, at times feel like a pointless endeavor, but by the time you reach the end, you will feel like a different person… I hope. Of course, when a movie resonates so deeply with one person, for others, it will not connect on a single level. To quote one scathing iMDB review of the film: "No matter how [Christoph] Waltz boldly reacts with his environs, (and he does try his best), his bald, androgynous character remains a walking enigma resembling Uncle Fester, just as anti-social, awkward, and only this side of believable. Blame the script and Gilliam's overindulgence with the surreal and the director's reliance on mind games"
I understand where this perspective is coming from, however there is a degree of detachment that almost feels necessary to the atmosphere of the film. We are shown a cold, cold world through vibrant colors and Gilliam's usual stylish visuals.
Some other random notes I made during the film:
- Matt Damon was so damn good as Management
- Ben Whishaw's face makes me happy
- Even the costuming in this was perfection
- So many questions I still have, yet know the answers to…
- Tilda Swinton rapping is a clear high point
- Gilliam's directing oh my god the visuals are beautiful
- Acting the acting in this is so good, the way Christoph Waltz walked reminded me of Nosferatu
- This cover of Radiohead's Creep is sooooo good
- Matrix references are always a plus
- Amazing amazing amazing thematic exploration of this generation
This movie came to me at the exact right time in my life and it reinforces Gilliam as perhaps my favorite director (I toss up between Gilliam and Aronofsky)… I wholeheartedly believe that The Zero Theorem is his masterpiece, and if he ever manages to top this, I will be totally, utterly dumbfounded.
10/10 Stars, a visual treat, a scripted masterpiece, fantastically acted and imaginatively, delicately crafted, The Zero Theorem is an experience you won't be forgetting any time soon.
Josiah Morgan, 2014