The Zero Theorem
Taglines: Nothing is everything.
Terry Gilliam’s madcap science fiction epic The Zero Theorem stars two-time Academy Award-winner Christoph Waltz as Qohen Leth, an eccentric and reclusive computer genius plagued with existential angst. Living in isolation in a burnt-out church, Qohen is obsessively working on a mysterious project personally delegated to him by Management (Matt Damon) aimed at discovering the meaning of life – or the complete lack of one – once and for all.
Increasingly disturbed by unwanted visits from people he doesn’t fully trust, including flirtatious Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry), Management’s wunderkind son Bob (Lucas Hedges), his unpredictable colleague Job (David Thewlis), and would-be digital therapist Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton), it’s only when he experiences the power of love and desire that he’s able to understand his own reason for being.
The Zero Theorem is a science fiction film directed by Terry Gilliam, written by Pat Rushin, and starring Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry, and David Thewlis. The story centres on Qohen Leth (Christopher Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds any meaning. Some have called it the final part of “The Brazil Trilogy”, though Gilliam has not referred to the film this way. Nevertheless, one can easily regard the film as the final third of a satirical dystopian trilogy or “Orwellian triptych” begun with 1985′s Brazil and continued with 1995′s 12 Monkeys.
About the Story
Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), an eccentric programmer who refers to himself in plurals, is assigned to “crunch entities” for a company named Mancom. Finding himself suffering existential angst, Qohen constantly waits for a phone call, hoping that it might bring him happiness or the answers he seeks.
Requesting a psych evaluation, three company doctors determine that Qohen is physically healthy, but request he have therapy from Dr Shrink-ROM (Tilda Swinton), an AI therapist designed to provide mental evaluation. Wanting to meet with “Management” (Matt Damon), Qohen attends a party held by his supervisor, Joby (David Thewlis). Stumbling into an empty room, Qohen finds Management and requests to work from home, as he would be more productive and would no longer risk missing his call; Management simply notes he finds Qohen “quite insane.”
Attempting to leave the party, Qohen is pressed into staying by Joby and, when Qohen starts choking on an olive, he is rescued by partygoer Bainsley (Mélanie Thierry). His request granted by Management, Qohen is informed he is to start working from home, and is shown a massive supercomputer dubbed “The Neural Net Mancive”; containing all of the entities crunched by workers, Qohen is required to order its data to solve the “Zero Theorem”, a mysterious mathematical formula. Spending months as a hermit whilst working on the program, he is diagnosed with numerous conditions by Dr. Shrink-ROM, and begins suffering nightmares involving a black hole.
Frustrated with his work, Qohen smashes his computer with a hammer, and is soon visited by Bainsley. Qohen confides with Bainsley that he believes he accidentally hung up a call that would have given him the meaning of life, and has desperately been waiting for a call-back ever since. Qohen is then visited by Bob (Lucas Hedges), the teenage son of Management. Bob repairs his computer, reveals Management is spying on him, and suggests that Bainsley is only interested in Qohen because she is paid to. After Qohen insists he will cease working on the zero theorem, Bob promises to get him his call if he continues. Having received an AI suit from Bainsley, Qohen interacts with her through virtual reality, which makes them both appear on a beach together. When Qohen asks if the sun in the horizon ever sets, Bainsley responds it is not programmed to do so. They soon kiss one another.
Visited again by Bob, Qohen, to his distaste, learns the zero theorem aims to prove life is meaningless through the Big Crunch theory. Digitally connecting to Bainsley again, Qohen is comforted by her, but when he denounces Management and suggests eloping together, she forcefully disconnects, damaging Qohen’s suit. When Bob then takes his suit to repair it, Qohen connects to Bainsley unannounced, only to discover she is a webcam stripper. Bob returns with Qohen’s suit, now repaired, and reveals his phone call is only a delusion, and admits his Dr. Shrink-ROM was only designed to identify his pathology rather than treat it. Qohen is visited by Bainsley, who apologizes for deceiving him, but claims she truly fell in love with him; despite Bainsley’s offer to elope, which is encouraged by Bob, Qohen turns her down.
Qohen, discussing his problems with Bob, discovers Bob’s health is radically declining. Caring for Bob, Qohen finds a hidden camera in his bathroom mirror, and begins to uncover and smash Management’s cameras. Despite barricading his home, Management employees break in and take Bob away. Visited by Joby, Qohen is berated by him as his actions got Joby fired. Wearing his now repaired sex suit, Qohen connects to his computer, but is nearly electrocuted.
The Zero Theorem
Directed by: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis, Lucas Hedges, Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton
Screenplay by: Pat Rushin
Production Design by: David Warren
Cinematography by: Nicola Pecorini
Film Editing by: Mick Audsley
Costume Design by: Carlo Poggioli
Set Decoration by: Jille Azis, Gina Stancu
Music by: George Fenton
MPAA Rating: R for language and some sexuality / nudity.
Studio: Well Go USA
Release Date: September 19, 2014