“The Zero Theorem:” Too complex for casual movie-goers?

Eddie Sheehy, Lifestyles Editor

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Terry Gilliam is notorious for being weird. His films, which are always highlighted by bright colors, intermittent otherworldly CGI sequences and personalities so bizarre you never fully like them, have become a point of great intrigue for many movie viewers. In the past, Terry Gilliam has brought us some wonderful pictures, my favorite among them being “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” starring Christopher Plummer, Andrew Garfield and Heath Ledger in his final on-screen performance.

The movie was original, creative and inexplicably well put together.  When I saw the trailer for Gilliam’s newest film, “The Zero Theorem,” I was expecting much of the same.

While the movie was definitely original, creative and well put together, I couldn’t help but feel like it was missing something. Christoph Waltz really went out of his comfort zone with this role. Playing a man who only refers to himself in the third person and has an incredible pension for running a video-game like software as a career, Waltz is like we’ve never seen him before.

The entire movie is complex, quite honestly more complex than I could understand in one viewing, but I’ll give you the rundown to the point in which I understand it.

In a futuristic society, a man named Qohen (Waltz) is tasked with finding the meaning of human existence through a formula known as “The Zero Theorem,” by his ultra powerful boss, Management (Matt Damon). After some time and trouble figuring out the Zero Theorem, Qohen is allowed to continue his work in his home, which is a converted monastery.

Hounded by a cast of equally off-putting and original characters, namely his virtual therapist Dr. Shrink-Rom (Tilda Swinton), a boy-genius named Bob (Lucas Hedges) who specializes in computers and a lusty love interest named Bainsely (Mélanie Thierry), Qohen finds it increasingly difficult to focus and complete the Zero Theorem.

That’s about as much as I got after one viewing, and that’s why I’m going to stop explaining the plot there. The average moviegoer is probably going to see the movie once, and because of that, most people are not going to like it. The thing you have to understand about Terry Gilliam movies is that they absolutely will require more than one viewing to make sense. It took me about a half dozen viewings of “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus” to completely understand it, and I have no doubts “The Zero Theorem” will require the same attention to detail.

That being said, this movie, like all other Gilliam flicks is not going to be for everyone. One of my roommates joined me for about 10 minutes of this movie, at which point he said he needed to get up and leave because the movie was just “too weird.” Albeit, the movie is weird, there’s strange fetish sex, futuristic elements that travel into the uncanny valley and enough highfalutin dialog to throw off many a casual movie viewer.

If you’re looking for a fun, relaxing movie, you’re going to want to pass on “The Zero Theorem.” But if you’re looking for a highly stylistic, highly intelligent film that will no doubt require multiple viewings for complete understanding, give it a try.  You might not love it, but you’ll definitely be intrigued.

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