Cinema Review: The Zero Theorem | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, February 28th, 2024  

The Zero Theorem

Studio: Amplify
Directed by Terry Gilliam

Sep 19, 2014 Issue #51 - September/October 2014 - alt-J
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If Brazil was his dystopian interpretation of stifling bureaucracy in the 1980s, then The Zero Theorem is Terry Gilliam’s chilling portrayal ­­­of our Internet age. Its protagonist, Qohen—played by a hairless, eyebrow-less Christoph Waltz—is dying. The acutely antisocial mathematician spent his life endlessly crunching data for a mysterious manager while waiting for a telephone call he believes will explain the reason for his existence. To avoid missing that important call, he takes a special assignment which allows him to work from the burned-out church he calls his home. Qohen is tasked with solving the impossible Zero Theorem: a piece of mathematical evidence that will prove life has no meaning.

Shot on a relatively minuscule budget, The Zero Theorem takes Gilliam’s world-crafting abilities and inimitable visual bombast—as visionary here as in any of his previous work—and condenses it to a claustrophobically compact scale. The camera centers on Waltz for the majority of the film’s runtime; this approach magnifies the actor’s masterfully internal performance, and forces viewers to endure the same bombardment of color and information as his character. This ultra-stylized world feels foreign, terrifying, yet recognizably contemporary—a nightmarish future-world ruled by modern-day touchscreens and iPhones. Dense with existential quandaries to explore through repeat viewings, The Zero Theorem is as harrowing as it is tragic. It’s one of Gilliam’s best.

Author rating: 9/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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