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The Zero Theorem (2013)
Unfortunately, this picture is a just shiny, somewhat familiar bag of stunning false hope for movie fans. Just as Waltz's Leth obsessively aches to be told his life's purpose, a paying audience is forced to patiently grind through director Gilliam and screenwriter Rushin's tiring big screen indulgence for anything memorably compelling or entertaining enough to earn the price of admission. Sadly, unless you find potentially career-ending cinematic quicksand compelling, it never happens.
After a chance encounter at his supervisor's (played by Thewlis) house party and tasked by Mancom's enigmatic Management (Damon) for a special number-crunching project, The Zero Theorem, Qohen Leth eagerly trades his time-wasting commute through the rotting city's distracting chaos for the sanctuary of his converted chapel home. It's what he's wanted all along: To work undisturbed at home for months, near his phone, for a long-awaited voice expected to call him back at any moment with the meaning of life. Then, Bainsley drops by in a sexy nurse outfit and soon has Leth joining her on a virtual reality tropical beach.
Question: If a character in this movie's sci-fi future world doesn't want to miss a phone call, wouldn't they own a device or two of some kind that resembles a mobile phone? #awkward. Follow-up: If such mobile phone-like devices don't or can't exist for this sci-fi future world's character, shouldn't a reason for that exist in this movie? #doubleplusawkward. Yawn, never mind.
This feature flounders desperately for the most part, half-baked and without much notable purpose beyond the exercise of milking pretense and coy satire. It's not enough. In a good way, The Zero Theorem brings all the wonderfully jagged whimsy, peripheral subversive novelty and visual embellishment of a typical Terry Gilliam movie. Its depiction of Leth's highly specialized work as being little more than infantile gamer play is also hilarious at first. However, Ruskin's screenplay fails to provide anything for this film's otherwise proven talent to truly work with beyond sporadically flashing their screen presence and bare buttocks. In a bad way. This flick's a needless struggle on both sides of the 4th wall.
Perpetually blank-faced and bereft of believability, Waltz and Thierry are merely shepherded through each unrelenting - often pointless - scene of dull, disjointed dialogue and dubiously bipolar motivation here. Exploitive nudity aside, it's embarrassing to watch. Primary supporting players simply show up to look goofy, speak a few lines and then exit the frame without mattering. I'd love to say otherwise. For decades, I was a huge fan of Gilliam's movies. However, my proclaiming this latest effort is anything other than a bland and hollow Art House stinker compared to Brazil (1985), The Fisher King (1991), Twelve Monkeys (1995) or Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) would be telling a pretentious fib.
Gilliam reportedly anointed The Zero Theorem the last in his satirical dystopian triptych of films that include Brazil and Twelve Monkeys. That might have been the case in theory, but definitely falls short in practice. Too bad. Unless you're a diehard fan of Christoph Waltz or all things Terry Gilliam, you're better off forgetting this dismal empty waste of time and talent ever happened. Reviewed 09/14, © Stephen Bourne, moviequips.ca.
The Zero Theorem is rated 14A
by the Ontario Film Review Board, citing mild sexual references,
coarse language, nudity in a non-sexual context, partial or full
nudity in a brief sexual situation, scenes that may cause a child
brief anxiety, or fear, embracing and kissing, mild sexual innuendo,
and tobacco use, and is rated G by la Régie du Cinéma
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