Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Film: The Zero Theorem (2014)

Managed to catch Terry Gilliam's latest movie on one of the big screen this evening, and thought it was very good, although I didn't quite grasp the final twenty minutes.

The movie asks the age old existential question of the meaning and meaninglessness of it all and leaves the answers sufficiently open to interpretation without becoming a meaningless art movie where everything is left to the viewer i.e. there is an intent and clear posing of questions, as well as suggestions of answers. Here are some comments from Gilliam himself:

"Pat Rushin’s script intrigued me with the many pertinent questions raised in his funny, philosophic and touching tale. For example: What gives meaning to our lives, brings us happiness? Can we ever find solitude in an increasingly connected, constricted world? Is that world under control or simply chaotic? 
We’ve tried to make a film that is honest, funny, beautiful, smart and surprising; a simple film about a complex modern man waiting for a call to give meaning to his life; about inescapable relationships and the longing for love, peopled with captivating characters, mouthfuls of wise and witty dialogue; raising questions without offering easy answers. Hopefully, it’s unlike any film you have seen recently; no zombies, no caped crusaders, no aliens or gigantic explosions. Actually, I might have lied about that last item."
From another interview with Gilliam:
The Skinny: The Zero Theorem is, at times, quite bleak. Bob [Lucas Hedges] tries to persuade Qohen Leth [Christoph Waltz] that everything is meaningless, that there is no such thing as a calling. Do you see yourself as a Bob figure, trying to disabuse the audience of a notion of meaning?
Terry Gilliam: No, not really. It's sort of testing the main character is what it's really doing. Matt Damon [playing a figure known only as Management] describes [Leth] towards the end as a man of faith. Qohen believes there is a meaning to life and that our lives make sense, and he certainly wants to believe that. Everybody else is kind of conspiring to say it's not true, except that in the course of this Bob, the teenager, Bainsley [Mélanie Thierry] the girl, these are people that come into his life that he actually begins to care about and love. It's about re-humanising the character, in a strange way.
I think, for me, people say 'what's the meaning of life?' To me, the point is – and strangely enough that's kind of what Matt Damon's character says –you've gotta give meaning to your life. I mean, there's no meaning to life: my cells are dividing, things are happening, structures are being formed, other things are eating other things. It's wonderful organised chaos. So whatever meaning there is to life is what you give to your life. You gotta do the work, you can't sit around waiting for a phone call to tell you.What I always thought was funny with The Zero Theorem was that he is trying to prove a negative positively. That's the weird thing when you are trying to prove that 100% must equal zero, or zero must equal 100%, it's a very weird thing because how do you do that? We build these structures that keep falling apart, which fail to produce the result.
**** (gets an extra half a star for being made on a shoe-string budget)

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