Sat 4 Oct 2014
‘The Zero Theorem’ is directed by Terry Gilliam, a highly original creator and an explorer of the future, which he already described in rather dark colors in several memorable films like ‘Brazil’ and ‘Twelve Monkeys’. His other principal title of glory, the ‘Monty Python’ series, somehow balances in his filmography the concept of anticipation with the one of an alternate present or past in the comic registry. ‘The Zero Theorem’ was shot mostly in Romania, and part of the technical team and actors are Romanian, to the extent the in the program of the festival I saw the film in it was classified as a an English-Romanian co-production.
In the fantastic scenery of an abandoned church that some of my Bucharest friends might recognize we find the hero of the film (played brilliantly by Christoph Waltz), a specialist in ‘processing entities’. working frantically on a mission entrusted by a large corporation whose chief is called impersonal ‘The Management’ (Matt Damon), a mission whose goal may be finding the meaning of existence, or an absurd demonstration that accumulation of full (100%) is equal to the Great Zero. Or perhaps the essence of human existence and the absurd are the same? Actually it does not really matter, because the story and the logic of the film is focused on the frantic and obsessive search of the main character. Or maybe this is human nature, a continuous search that ends in nothing? Or in the Infinity?
We find in this film’s many of the visual metaphors Terry Gillman used us to, in a colorful world activated by a strange retro-advanced technology, like belonging to a branching of time for human scientific developments that extends the early 20th century. We also find a fierce critique of large international corporations – the main character is provided with such items of ‘personal development’ like a virtual-dream love relationship (with gorgeous Gwendoline Christie) or psychoanalysis through tele-presence (by severe Tilda Swinton). He is subjected to tracking methods that infiltrate his privacy inspired by Orwell’s ’1984′ and Gilliam’s own ‘Brazil’ and also terrorized by a small and despotic manager, a familiar figure many of those who worked in large global corporations may find familiar.
‘The Zero Theorem’ is first of all a wonderful visual experience. It is also a film that does not open immediately all its secret doors, but gives the impression of depth and complexity that calls for a second and maybe more viewings.