Tuesday, July 14, 2015

3+1 Short Paragraphs: The Zero Theorem

2013, Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits) -- netflix

It may be accredited to the fact I waited this long to see the movie, that my enjoyment of the movie was diminished. For the first time ever, I can say a Terry Gilliam movie really just didn't do it for me. Despite an array of visuals that were as Gilliam as ever and a plot that actually sang to my core, I was just not... impressed.

The Zero Theorem looks incredible, visually distinctive like no movie (of his) since Brazil. But where that movie was all dull earth tones, muted palette for a dull bureaucratic world, this is all colour and jazz, for a world set as an extreme mockery of our own, one of screens and advertising and the desire to be unique from the grey crowds. Computers are everywhere, but using unique interfaces much more like a child's toy, than intelligent UIs. And colour! Outrageous, riotous colour!

Qohen, played by Christoph Waltz, is a programmer with Mancom. And when I say programmer, I mean he crunches numbers. And when I say crunches numbers, I mean he wiggles icons to fit into other icons. He is the best at it, but is broken, having missed a phone call that would explain the meaning of life to him. He now waits forever, for that phone call, and has stopped living life. That makes him perfect for Mancom's management (unrecognizable Matt Damon) plan to understand the antithesis of meaning; the Zero Theorem. A man who (un)lives while always seeking the meaning of living, can be so perfect to the finding of an algorithm that proves everything is meaningless. Sorry if that hurts your frontal lobe.

And yet, despite the visuals and the current question of meaning ("waiting for my real life to begin"), it just didn't work for me. Not completely bored, but not completely bought in, I kept on waiting for something to actually happen. I kept on waiting for enlightenment. I kept on waiting for the Gilliam rush. Part of me believes Terry Gilliam was very very intentional in that, in that he needed me to find that meaning for myself, like he needed Qohen to actually find meaning, instead of just waiting for it to be explained by a phone call that would never come.