Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Review: The Zero Theorem

World of Blackout Film Review

The Zero Theorem Poster

The Zero Theorem
Cert: 15 / 106 mins / Dir. Terry Gilliam
WoB Rating: 6/7

Let's cut straight to the chase: I'm fairly certain I enjoyed The Zero Theorem. Although I'm also fairly certain that I didn't understand The Zero Theorem (not as much as I wanted to, at any rate). Visually and thematically fascinating, Christoph Waltz plays the neurotic Qohen, searching for feeling, connection and truth in a world full of sensory assault, and his endeavour has as much in common with Scott's Blade Runner as it does with Gilliam's earlier masterwork, Brazil.

There is, however, a very thin layer of smugness over some of the early scenes, particularly when we're seeing just how whacky and zany the future is, although this settles down as the film goes on and there are less quirks to introduce (and/or you just get used to them). I particularly liked the lack of explanation we're initially given for Qohen's job, which seems as baffling to us in 2014 as a data analyst's would be to an Elizabethan theatre audience.

The production design is every bit as detailed and gorgeous as you'd expect in a Gilliam film, and Waltz, Mélanie Thierry, Tilda Swinton, Lucas Hedges and David Thewlis fit into the oddball universe seamlessly (Matt Damon turns up and reads his lines in a manner which suggests to me that the producers were unable to secure Philip Seymour Hoffman. Me mordere).

The defining image of of the film for me (and one which is surprisingly underplayed) is the abandoned/converted church where Qohen lives, featuring a statue of the crucified Jesus, with the head removed and overtly replaced with a surveillance camera. It's a heavy moment of symbolism in a film filled with tiny details.

As enjoyable as I found The Zero Theorem, it did leave me wondering at several points what exactly the fuck was going on. Crucially, I don't see that as a bad thing in this case*1, and it's nothing that can't be remedied by further study. After I've dug out my copy of Brazil, of course.

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I think I did, yes.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
Almost certainly.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If you're interested, it looks great on a big screen, but you won't lose too much by watching it at home if it's not playing near you.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Will I watch it again?
Definitely will.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
Will one of you watch the film with me now and explain it, please?

*1I'm looking at you, Under The Skin.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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