I have no idea what this film is about, nor do I know how to summarise it into a single paragraph. I suppose I may as well give it a go though, which is rather unfortunate seeings as how I don't really know how to do it. Um, The Zero Theorem follows the story of Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz), a man who, um, plays video games for a job. Well, not technically. He works for a corporation that uses these skills to do things. I don't really know what I'm saying, this film is weird. Anyway, so while he's hacking away he's in search for his reason of existence he's met by Barnsley (Mélanie Thierry), a young woman who's been sent to serve as both a distraction and love interest. Yeah, I think that just about covers it. There's no real plot to anything, but if there were then that'd be a semi-decent summary of it.
The Zero Theorem is directed by Terry Gilliam, and that's about all you really need to hear to determine if you think you'll like this film or not. Terry Gilliam, and this isn't just my opinion, is a rather odd director. No no, he's a very odd director. He's one of the men behind Monty Python, although I'd much rather watch all of those movies than most of his recent films. Granted, I haven't seen all of his recent films either so I can't really judge. I remember admiring The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus when it first came out for being so utterly different, but I haven't seen it again. This was also a time when I thought The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was pretentious and I deemed Transformers one of the best action movies of all time. I was an idiotic kid, but now I'm a slightly less idiotic teen.
Before I take a rather large dump on this film's forehead, I'll give it some credibility. Firstly, the film is visually incredible. Well, maybe not incredible, but certainly impressive. It's as ambitious as it is gorgeous, this point being both good and bad. The world that Gilliam has created is unique, rambunctious and a little bit queer. It's something that we don't see everyday and while that's a pleasantry, the rest of the film isn't. The performances are fascinating too, particularly because these actors are playing characters so unlike what we're used to seeing. They give it a go and the outcome's hard to discourage.
Okay, okay, time to let my annoyances with this film free. Despite being visually satisfying, the events in which these visuals occur are far from interesting. There's really not a lot this film has to offer outside the world of special effects and artsy fartsy scenarios. I'm sure there are people out there that'll enjoy this film, but for people like me it's just not up my alley, and this is coming from the guy who adores Enemy. They don't come much artsier than Enemy. Well.....
The Zero Theorem really doesn't know what it's trying to be. Maybe it does and I don't get it, but I'm brave enough to say that it doesn't. There's a lot happening, but not a lot that makes sense. The plot is muddled, trying to be so many different things at once, but never spending enough time on any of them. The start is promising, but the rest is rubbish, minus a nurse outfit worn by Theirry that's just way too sexy for my liking. I'm so sorry about that, but I can't help it.
As well as being jumbled, this film is also full of moments that just got me scratching my head. Okay, get this. Tilda Swinton is in this film, like she is with many films this year. I like Tilda Swinton, coincidentally I've also mentioned another film of hers in this review already. A far superior film at that. But there's a scene in this movie where she raps. Tilda Swinton does a f***ing rap in this movie! That's how ridiculous it can get.
To sum up, The Zero Theorem is ambitious, full of fascinating performances and aided by impressive and unique visuals, but it's still a jumbled, odd, ridiculous and far from interesting film that's deliberately artsy and not in a good way.