By Adam Ruhl
Well the end has finally come, Fantastic Fest 2013 went out with a phenomenal closing film, Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem. It was touch and go for most of the day, but with a little luck I was able to secure entrance to this amazing film. I have written a special review for it and encourage everyone to see this film. I hope you have enjoyed our Fantastic Fest coverage and I look forward to sharing the festival with you all again in 2014.
The Zero Theorem
Opinion about Terry Gilliam films tends to be fairly polarized. Myself, the type of folks who read our site, and lovers of genre films the world over largely consider him a genius and master filmmaker. Others, who prefer more conventional films or simply don’t like his style, have a decidedly more mixed reaction. Zero Theorem is not likely to reconcile these two sides anytime soon. If anything, Terry Gilliam has continued to evolve and push his storytelling into even deeper realms than his earlier films. I’ve seen this new movie once, but I feel like I will need time and several more viewings before its messages become clear to me. That’s not to say that the film is convoluted, it’s actually very straight forward, but on reflection I feel like Terry Gilliam is encoding deeper meaning under the plot.
The Zero Theorem is a story about Qohen (Christoph Waltz), an office worker who wishes to work from home because he is expecting a phone call which will tell him the meaning of his life. His wish is granted when he is assigned a project to work on solving the The Zero Theorem, an equation to show that the entire universe is meaningless. The screenplay was written by Pat Rushin (who attended the closing screening but was not available for Q&A) and he composes some fascinating characters; similar to those in earlier Gilliam films, but with more brooding and melancholy. Terry Gilliam stated that, like Brazil, this was commentary on the business world of an era. I heard someone refer to it as the “spiritual successor’ of Brazil and I can see how someone would draw that parallel to a point. Zero points a lot of the same fun at corporate structures and authority, but takes its own road when considering modern motivations and how technology has shaped our world.
The Zero Theorem has just started on the festival rounds and it may be some time before we see a domestic US release. When it does become available I recommend seeing it a number of times, I know I’m going to catch more in later viewings. As with all his films it’s so visually busy that it’s easy to miss important details. The Zero Theorem is a brilliant film and a stunning achievement for Gilliam and Waltz. Ultimately I think this film will place high in the list of the director’s best works.