Film review: The Zero Theorem (7 out of 10)

Christoph Waltz and David Thewlis in The Zero Theorem
Christoph Waltz and David Thewlis in The Zero Theorem

When you enter the world of Terry Gilliam you know you are in for a strange and often baffling ride.

Whether his movie has a plot or is just a string of consciousness, you are left with plenty to ponder.

This latest effort owes more to the feel and style of Brazil than, say, 12 Monkeys, but is possibly part of a trilogy that involves these three.

The Zero Theorem see Christoph Waltz play Qohen Leth, an eccentric number cruncher.

He is working along with several others on a seemingly pointless project in England in a not too distant future (there are still red buses).

It is overseen by The Management, played by Matt Damon, who picks Leth out for a special task, the Zero Theorem - providing the answer to life.

As he struggles with his new job he is visited by Bainsley (Melanie Thierry), the Management’s son Bob (Lucas Hedges) and an on-screen psychiatrist (Tilda Swinton heavily disguised again) who both help and hinder his attempts at finding answers.

It sounds a bit pointless and unless you work your brain it pretty much is.

However, the film considers some rather big topics. For example, what is the point of life if existence started from nothing (the Big Bang) and is set to return to nothing as the universe finally contracts.

A rather topical topic as scientists have just tracked down echoes of the Big Bang.

You can also throw in some religious overtones with the Management possibly as a god-like figure and Leth’s constant wait for a phone call (again from God?) that will supply all the answers to life.

There are, of course, Gilliam’s normal concerns about ‘Big Brother’ spying on us and the individual struggling in a world designed for the masses.

In fact, it’s possible that you can end up looking too deeply and find things that aren’t there.

As far as the movie is concerned, Waltz is as good as ever and David Thewlis (as Leth’s line manager) and Thierry are fine support.

Gilliam’s fussy sets and left-field ideas normally make sense in the end, but The zero Theorem is arguably his most difficult movie to get to grips with.

As such it will find a smaller audience, but it’s worth investigation just to let your brain work at full capacity.

However, my poor brain was struggling to find out what the end was all about!

Film details: The Zero Theorem (15) 107mins

Director: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis, Matt Damon

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley