A reclusive programmer is tasked with a seemingly impossible task, causing him to lose his grip on reality and question his life.
There is a solid reason I am absolutely in love with the films of Terry Gilliam. The man knows how to weave together a story that absolutely drips with hidden meaning, and some not so hidden meaning, all while never feeling pretentious. “The Zero Theorem” is very reminiscent of one of his earlier films “Brazil”. It captures the same feeling of a single man struggling against a system that almost seems to encompass all of reality. I will mention now that there may be some minor spoilers ahead but I will do my best to keep them light.
It follows Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a programmer for a powerful company. He is tasked with solving the so named “Zero Theorem” which we find out later is a mathematical theory that if proven correct will show that everything is pointless, that the universe will eventually implode on itself in a super massive black hole and that everything we ever do is utterly without meaning. Using this as a catalyst the film explores a multitude of notions relating to belief and the lack thereof. It doesn’t quite support (though may have a leaning one way) having or not having a belief in a purpose but posits that both have their drawbacks and benefits. While this main point of contention may be the focus of the movie it also subtly comments on the state of our world as it is currently and our separation from others, replacing human contact with other things.
This movie does almost everything it sets out to do fantastically. Christoph Waltz delivers another great performance, ever since his debut in “Inglorious Basterds” I have yet to see him him in a movie where I haven’t liked him. The only “bad” actor of the bunch was Lucas Hedges who actually had a rather large part. His sometimes over the top “I am a young punk” attitude at times felt unbelievable and was jarring in a way that was clearly unintended.
“The Zero Theorem” is a movie I know I am going to need to watch again… and probably once more after that, and so on and so on. Like all of Gilliam’s work there is just too much to absorb in one sitting. I could tell as soon as the credits began rolling that even though my mouth was full, if I went in again I would find even more delicious content to chew on. I think this film will easily climb to a 10/10 later but for now I give it a 9/10
Available on Netflix Instant streaming