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Qohen leans over his computer, scratching his bald head. He sits in an abandoned old church – which he has lived in for may years, working at his computer. And there is one reason why he has taken years.
He is trying to discover the reason behind human existence…
Christoph Waltz – Qohen Leth
Mélanie Thierry – Bainsley
David Thewlis – Joby
Lucas Hedges – Bob
Matt Damon – Management
Tilda Swinton – Dr. Shrink-Rom
Let me make one thing absolutely clear: This movie was fucking AWFUL – from beginning to end. But far be it from me to limit this review to my own opinion, so as always I inform you of what went right – and what went astronomically wrong.
Welcome to The Zero Theorem. Let’s examine the result..
Christoph Waltz was actually bloody great in this movie. His character is far from anything I’ve seen him play on screen before. I was completely won over by his acting – his dynamic at building the character of Qohen was admirable. His slap-head appearance and drab outfit was complemented perfectly by a nervous, slightly mad yet incredibly intelligent bumbling old man.
Think Uncle Fester (Addams Family) – that retiring personality, chin tucked inwards towards his body as he mumbles with fast and accurate diction. This is exactly who Qohen reminded me of; if he had walked onto the set of The Addams Family, you wouldn’t blink twice at his ability to fit perfectly at Fester’s side (perhaps his twin or something).
Watching Christoph in this movie was honestly like nothing before. I’ve seen him in a few things previously where he has played your straight-talking suited gentleman, but to me in this, he was unrecognisable. And this is what swung it for me – this is why he gets my vote for The Zero Theorem; his acting technique. Because if an actor is almost unrecognisable on screen, it means he / she has done a brilliant job at creating a character.
Top marks for Christoph here.
If you’re a Sci-Fi fan who enjoys being propelled hundreds of years into the future then you will no doubt enjoy The Zero Theorem. Food products are bizarrely renamed (Flakes From Corn), electronics seem to be running the city (street signs activated whenever a person walks past) and the fashion of the times is abnormally plastic. You’re never short of futuristic delights throughout the movie.
One scene sees Qohen at a house party – but something about it is very different.. The revellers all seem to be dancing to the music – which is playing on their own iPods, iPhones, etc. Almost like one of those ‘silent disco’ things you find occasionally, the party-goers move around bopping to the tunes they’re listening to on their headphones. Others seem to be holding their iPads in the air whilst broadcasting their location to someone. These strange antics were not explained, but still added a nice futuristic twist to the story.
To be honest, my first thought (seeing people glued to their iPhones / iPads in a social situation) was, “no change there, then”.
Pizzas arrive in a rectangular box – which are then unfolded when delivered (complete with the company’s trademark jingle when the box is opened), people wear electronic onesies which when plugged into their computer, transports them into a world they created.. the movie delivers the right amount of science fiction which is rather satisfying.
So if you’re a Sci-Fi fan, you won’t be disappointed.
Have you ever watched a movie / TV show where the set seems to be CRAMMED with props, costume a random bits of furniture? Where instead of using a stark setting so the audience can focus solely on the characters, it looks as if the director vomited his ideas all over the set?
Welcome to The Zero Theorem.
From the word go, the set and scenery were a massive distraction. Vehicles, gadgets, colourful outfits, dust and smoke.. it was all a bit too much. Too much crap thrown at the audience all at once, which continued throughout the movie. It made me feel a bit tired actually, having to look at it all – instead of focusing on what was happening. It was as if director Terry Gilliam had thought, “brilliant – this is set in the future, so I’m going to throw as much shit on the set as possible, and call it evolution”.
Trust me, if he thought he’d struck gold, he didn’t. He was stuck on bronze. The overall environment was messy, cluttered, untidy. Like a gigantic jumble sale. It kind of reminded me of Doctor Who episode The Long Game, where The Doctor and Rose land on Satellite 5 – it is an almighty explosion of colour and props which is a bit mad. Stuff – everywhere.
This movie lost its concept just a few minutes in – it literally lost the plot.
I assumed The Zero Theorem would be about a man who tries to – and possibly does – discover the reason for human existence. An enjoyable Sci-Fi in which the beginning of the Universe is uncovered. I assumed wrong. This movie was the total opposite. At no point did it even touch on the subject. Perhaps I was misled by the poster or had a preconceived idea of its concept, but I can honestly say The Zero Theorem wasn’t what I expected – at all. To say it was disappointing would be an understatement. We literally get 105 minutes of a man trying to get his homework done which his manager has set him, whilst having an irritating muddled-accent woman running around him at the same time.
Confused and tedious, I sat watching Qohen stagger back and forth from his churchy apartment whilst moaning about his manager and whether or not his hard work would pay off. That was literally it. Let me put my point across in a more descriptive way:
The man behind me in the cinema was on his mobile phone for a good percentage of the movie.
The man a few seats down from me had chin resting on hand (in classic bored fashion), before actually leaning forward and resting both arms on the back of the seat in front of him.
..and I think I heard a sigh come from somewhere.
I mean, what the fuck?! This nausea-inducing excuse for a movie didn’t just stray from its point, but it sent us audience to bloody sleep. I tell you now – it wasn’t what I expected. At all. And I was very close to walking out.
Any and all humour was lost in this movie.
One thing I picked up on was the actors kept repeating their one-liner’s. If one was uttered, it returned again fifteen or so minutes later. Joby (David Thewlis) was a main culprit – delivering lines which I sensed should have been a little humorous at least, yet evoked no reaction whatsoever from the cinema audience. On the contrary, whenever a character delivered a wisecrack in an animated way, no one reacted. Think of a pantomime to an empty auditorium – and you have your film.
There was no comic relief of any kind in this movie – be it farce, slapstick, stand-up, clever script. Someone needed to swoop in and save it – but they never did.
The Zero Theorem was completely out of place, being up on the ‘big screen’. What was being beamed from the cinema projection room should have been on children’s television at 3:45pm on a weekday afternoon. This wasn’t a movie – it was an extended children’s TV show; bursting with exactly the same elements. Cringeworthy panto-style characters, a messy set, and brightly coloured outfits to keep the children entertained.
In true Balamory style, Mélanie, Christoph, Tilda, David and Lucas twatted around the set delivering a feature which I’m sure had alarm bells ringing at CITV headquarters. They effortlessly managed to display a mysterious and swashbuckling performance which would be perfect for the younger generations – not us adults sat in the cinema having to endure it.
Bainsley walking into Qohen’s apartment dressed as a pink-haired nurse was just the beginning. The moments of sheer irrelevance just kept coming..
What I couldn’t fathom was the fact the story was set in the future – yet remained old-fashioned. For example, the residents of the Orwellian corporate world walk around in electronic clothing; clothing which lights up and can take its wearer from one world into another..
..yet people still order pizzas via telephone and have them delivered.
The residents indulge in alien, third-dimensional social situations.. yet they converse about Star Trek – a television show from decades ago. I suppose its like us nowadays, holding an Apple iPhone in our hands, talking about the dinosaurs or historic figures such as Joan Of Arc – maybe. But it just didn’t seem to fit. That far forward in the future, that much evolved, yet they’re ordering pizzas. If you’re going to produce a movie set in the future, at least go the whole hog, give the audience something different – a little bit more.
I must admit whenever Bainsley was on screen, I was bored. Apparently, her character is ‘sent by management to keep Qohen company’ – she does nothing but sit around querying his reactions to certain things and eating chicken with cringeworthy finger-licking table manners. An important character – who somehow manages to fade away into the background as the movie continues.
Christoph’s acting and characterisation skill. That is all.
Overall, The Zero Theorem was shocking. Just awful. A misleading pile of shit which seemed to send the audience to sleep rather than entertain them. I was bored throughout its entirety and wouldn’t wish this movie on anyone. If you think you’re in for a sci-fi treat of the discovery of our existence – DON’T.
I could understand if this movie was produced to be thought-provoking, or the references symbolic and observant – but it wasn’t. Nothing mean’t anything, neither had any effect. I couldn’t have cared less what happened to either character.
This movie boasts a plot which isn’t even touched upon, it simply runs in the background of a different story. Imagine The Hunger Games WITHOUT the games, just a simple story about a girl’s relationship with her family or something. I would not sit through this movie again if paid to do so. Hell, I should’ve been paid to go in the first place.