The Zero Theorem
Director: Terry Gilliam
Writer: Pat Rushin
Cast: Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, David Thewlis, Mélanie Thierry, Matt Damon, Gwendoline Christie, Rupert Friend, Ray Cooper, Lily Cole, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Peter Stormare, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton
Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz) works as an entity cruncher for a huge corporation. The hours away from home are torture for Qohen as he is waiting for a call, so he has been trying to convince the corporation that he could work from home. When his supervisor Joby (David Thewlis) tells him that Management (Matt Damon) will be at his party, Qohen decides that he has to go there and talk to him. And he actually succeeds in that plan and a little while later, he starts working on the Zero Theorem from home.
Gilliam knows how to make a world look cool and a film look pretty. The cast is wonderful, too. Other than that though, the film is a boring, sexist mess.
Look, there’s no way around it: your film has issues with women when the only female character in it (and I’m not counting the digital therapist, no) is (1) a sex worker who (2) deceives the protagonist about that fact, but secretly (3) she fell in love with him of all of her customers. And when then said protagonist (4) stomps all over her for not being forthright about her profession, even though she’s offering all he ever wanted. And when (5) that is the last we ever hear from her. One of these things would be bad enough but all of them at once? That really doesn’t work.
But even disregarding the treatment of women in the film, it just doesn’t have that much to offer. There are many good ideas in it that I could totally get behind. Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton) and Management (Matt Damon) were awesome ideas. I also loved how little of the world was actually explained – and that that didn’t matter one bit. But these are all moments of brilliance in a sea of film that just never connect with anything at all.
That meant that even though the film really looks amazing – the production designer(s) and the costume designer(s) must have had so much fun! – and Gilliam really knows how to set all these colorful, slightly nonsensical things in scene, it ended up being boring to watch. It lacked substance. It lacked story. It lacked an arc that kept everything together.
Not even the wonderful cast and all those great guest appearances could make up for that. Maybe with another script it could have been a great film. But I was really disappointed with what I got.