Watching Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem is like taking a
derivative tour through his past movies. Giant chaotic office like in Brazil?
Check. Dystopian future like in Twelve Monkeys? Check. Beautiful, unavailable
woman like in Brazil? Check. Main character lost in his own world like
in The Fisher King? Check.
The Zero Theorem even has the same feel as most Gilliam movies,
which is to say it’s a tragedy masquerading as a comedy. How else do you
explain the reasoning behind Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz)’s decision to forego
love from the woman (Mélanie Thierry) when she finally makes herself available
to him? How else do you explain his decision to live in a virtual reality
fantasy after living through a cornucopia of needlessly mind-boggling, and
mildly amusing, computer glitches?
The problem with Terry Gilliam’s movies, generally, is that he has a
wonderful eye for visuals, but he’s not too adept at storytelling. Most of The
Zero Theorem takes place on a single, complicated set, where Leth makes
things needlessly difficult. He’s ostensibly trying to find out,
mathematically, whether there’s any meaning to life. But if you’ve seen one
tragedy, you’ve seen them all, and Leth is doomed. It’s a visually stunning
kind of doom, but it’s still doom, and you can see the ending coming a mile
away. And has anyone noticed Tilda Swinton plays exactly the same character
here that she plays in Snowpiercer?
THE ZERO THEOREM
by Terry Gilliam
Waltz, Thierry and Matt Damon
Santa Fe Reporter
Letters to the Editor
Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to speciﬁc articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.
We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.