Zero Theorem: Film Review

By Sarah O’Brien

‘Zero Theorem,’  the latest science fiction offering from legendary film director Terry Gilliam hits Irish Cinema’s this week. Gilliam from 12 Monkeys fame,  delivers a low brow, pseudo intellectual imaging in the form of the rather existentialist Zero Theorem.

Qohen Leth, the films computer genius protagonist is looking for the meaning and purpose of  his life. He works for Mancom, which is essentially a dystopian futuristic corporation, that  watches his every move.

In Leth’s desperate search for meaning, he waits for his ‘call’, the call that will finally give him solace and vocation. ‘Zero Theorem’ delivers a slow, unimaginative plot, which leans heavily on  Orwell’s  classic 1984 and science fiction films. It’s pretentious insight into the nothingness and meaningless of  life gets lost due to the complete inability of its audience to engage with Leth. The character is to my mind  quite 2- dimensional.

The focus of the film is the zero theorem after which it’s named. This theory is supposed to prove that life is completely meaningless and this serves as a backdrop to the ‘coming of age ‘almost of Qohen Leth.

Basically the more he struggles to solve the theorem, the more he is supposed to evolve as a character. Management, i.e.(Mancom corporation) acts as the very embodiment of panopticism with Matt Damon’s character holding a God-like status, appearing almost omniscient. The premise of ‘Zero Theorem’ seems to be that nothing has meaning except that which you attach  to it.

Gilliam’s message seems to imply that life will be meaningless if we live as Leth does for the bulk of the film as unattached isolated workaholics. ‘Zero Theorem’s’ Carpe Diem ideology is hardly groundbreaking stuff.

As if that lack of unoriginality wasn’t lack lustre enough, let me introduce the ‘head-ache inducing’ Bainsley, played by Mélanie Thierry. Bainsley is a glorified call girl, who spends much of her time, writhing across our screens in ridiculous costumes and serves as Leths love interest. It’s interesting to note that Bainsley is paid by’ management’ to seduce Leth.

Her seemingly poor career choices  and interest in Leth are attributed to ‘Daddy Issues’ and so for a good 30mins we are forced to endure banal conversation and cheap titillation , which serves as a last ditch attempt to engage viewers.

All in all I think ‘Zero Theorem’ feels like a very detached coming of age-esque film and not in a good way. It could have benefited from a better script and more heart.

Let me know what you guys think, did you like Zero Theorem? Comment below! 🙂


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