THE ZERO THEOREM | THE REVIEW

They had me at , a huge fan of all his work, admittedly excluding his Monty Python stuff. I just never understood it growing up, probably need to revisit. THE ZERO THEOREM embraces his science fiction genre and this is the closest Gilliam has got to going back to 12 MONKEYS. When you then have , , Mélanie Thierry, Lucas Hedges, , and starring in a Gilliam film I start salivating. I went, I saw, I loved, I left mindfucked and more confused than when I entered and Gilliam did it again. THE ZERO THEOREM is out now on an extremely limited release – it is playing only at Palace Norton Street, Cinema Nova, Palace Centro, Palace Nova Eastend, Luna Leederville. It is rated MA15+ and runs for 106mins. And now enjoy my review, because Management says so.

 

THE ZERO THEOREM MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE ZERO THEOREM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | THE MOVIE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JASON KING

THE ZERO THEOREM is how Gilliam looks at the Matrix, and something I realised while watching this film is that when it comes to Gilliam NEVER try and sit there making sense of things, or it will destroy you. The guy is easily certifiable but it is this insane look at things that makes his films so surrealistic and enjoyable. He reminds me of Jean-Pierre Jeunet and just the whacky way of making post apocalyptic looking industrial dirty futuristic steampunk worlds. And how random characters, or even extras are a point of interest. In this, even the mice are intriguing. It is like he has taken acid and everything is visually worthy of inclusion and study regardless of the point.

 

THE ZERO THEOREM Christoph Waltz image
THE ZERO THEOREM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) crunches algorithms

 

The film is set in a world controlled now by algorithms, it is a future that would barely ever be possible. Gilliam commented that when he made BRAZIL he was making it based on how he saw the world then and THE ZERO THEOREM is how he sees the world now. I can see how very remotely but the organ known as a human brain in us or an acid sponge in Gilliam has a very different spin on things. This new world is ran by Management (Matt Damon) and he has his eyes set on Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) to crunch the algorithms on the unsolvable algorithm. Qohen is a very isolated man who crunches his algorithms all day long and has had enough with society and chooses this isolated life. His life sucks and resembles us in society being crushed by corporations. This new world is pure chaos and the film is trying to show that life, everything, has no meaning. Management wants Qohen to run the algorithms to prove that everything equals nothing, ie that life has no meaning, there is nothing at the end but oblivion. Qohen has been waiting his whole life to receive a phone call that will explain the meaning of it all. To me this phone call represents faith, add to it that Qohen lives in a crumbling church that could resemble the decay of faith and religion in a chaotic world but then again, trying to work out why Gillian does what he does, like I said, will destroy you.

Qohen is trodden on and ignored, and his name is always forgotten and his identity is pretty much irrelevant, until he starts crunching the numbers on the zero theorem for management and then his world starts changing. He finds the one thing that will destroy the best of us all – love.

 

THE ZERO THEOREM Melanie Thierry image
THE ZERO THEOREM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | Melanie Thierry as Bainsley

 

The film is visually Gilliam and stunning, in that dystopian insane world of Gilliam’s mind and the art design, sound design and everything technical is superb. Then there is the acting, in the hands of lesser actors this film would probably be a dud but everything about this film has you intrigued. Waltz is just sublime, at his best and just so odd, just like the other characters. David Thewlis, as Joby – Qohen’s boss, is remarkable, he is just a light in the film, I love the man. Matt Damon, who just signed onto the film to play Management without even reading a script is hilarious and a very different character for Damon indeed. Gilliam can always get great casting, actors literally put their hands up to work for him just to be in his films.

Mélanie Thierry is great as Bainsley, Qohen’s love interest and has some incredibly bizarre costumes 🙂 Then there is a kid who is now one of my favourite kid actors, Lucas Hedges, who plays Bob, just awesome. I loved Hedges in MOONRISE KINGDOM, he was the evil scout (Redford) determined to bring Sam down. He also had a small part in THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL as a pump attendant. Well it turns out Gilliam also loved him in Moonrise Kingdom and tracked him down for the part in this. He plays the “insignificance of youth” the next generation that will have it harder than the current one, the son of Management who uses him as much, if not more than the others. He has the enthusiasm of youth but in a chaotic world that has no meaning he is basically “fucked from birth.”.

 

THE ZERO THEOREM Lucas Hedges image
THE ZERO THEOREM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | Lucas Hedges as Bob

 

And how could I not forget the best part of the film, the woman who gives meaning to it all, the answer to our real life zero theorem, Tilda Swinton is in the bloody film 🙂 She plays an automatic online shrink (Dr Shrink-Rom). Basically a program and Tilda has a ball, she looks a lot like her character in SNOWPIERCER (out later in the year). Got to love this woman, she has bucked teeth and is barely recognisable and even gets to rap, yes rap as in musically. When she was asked in a recent interview how she came to be involved in THE ZERO THEOREM she said “I was invited to play by Terry Gilliam… enough said.” GOD THIS WOMAN IS PERFECT!!

PS: Very brief, almost cameo appearance from Ben Whishaw, my future husband, well, he is in the queue 🙂

 

THE ZERO THEOREM TILDA SWINTON IMAGE
THE ZERO THEOREM | THE SALTY POPCORN REVIEW | DR SHRINK-ROM (TILDA SWINTON)

 

Now, like I said the film is out now, if you love Gilliam, you like things odd, you want to see something insane, funny, extraordinary and enjoyable at the same time, then this one is for you and it deserves to be seen on the big screen. As I said to the fine folks at SONY PICTURES AUSTRALIA when the film finished “when I piece together my atomised mind post Gilliam cranial destruction I will endeavour to work out this film and my thoughts on it,” I have now, after a couple of weeks of psychotherapy, and can say it is good, it is great, it is fantastic, life has no meaning, there is nothing at all at the end, only what exists in the now, and listen to Management.

 

4 Pops