6.1/10
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The Zero Theorem (2013)

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A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is what he already craves.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (additional dialogue)
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Popularity
2,911 ( 549)
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Ray Cooper ...
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Doctor
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Doctor
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Bob
Margarita Doyle ...
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Slim Clone
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Storyline

A hugely talented but socially isolated computer operator is tasked by Management to prove the Zero Theorem: that the universe ends as nothing, rendering life meaningless. But meaning is what he already craves.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Nothing is everything.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

| | |

Language:

Release Date:

19 August 2014 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Teorema Zero  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$79,967 (United Kingdom), 14 March 2014, Limited Release

Opening Weekend USA:

$83,803, 19 September 2014, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$219,438, 3 October 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

| (surveillance footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The virtual reality beach scenes that Bainsley created for Qohen are reminiscent of the classic film From Here to Eternity (1953). See more »

Goofs

When Qohen is sitting at his computer naked, he is wearing flesh colored underwear. See more »

Quotes

Qohen Leth: Are you real, or just in my mind?
Management: Doesn't matter at all. You're part of the neural web now.
Qohen Leth: [extended silence] ... so there is no answer?
Management: That depends on the question.
Qohen Leth: *What I'm living for?*
Management: That's a good question Mr Leth, posed entirely to the wrong person. You see, it seems you've mistaken me for a considerably higher power. I'm not the source of your call. I'm not God or the Devil, I'm just a man... seeking the truth.
Qohen Leth: *What Truth? If... *
Management: Turn around and look
[points toward black hole imagery]
Management:
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

In memory of the great Richard D. Zanuck who kept the ball rolling. See more »

Connections

References Wheel of Fortune (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

Creep
Written by Thom Yorke
Performed by Karen Souza
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User Reviews

 
Exit the void
17 March 2014 | by See all my reviews

There's a black hole swirling at the bottom of Qohen Leth's (Christoph Waltz) soul. He's waiting for a phone call from God, explaining the point of it all. Because at the moment it seems like existence is an erroneous quirk in the cosmic standard of nothingness. Everything will return to nothing, so why make something of life? Love, in the form of romance (Melanie Thierry as Bainsley), friendship (David Thewlis), and parenthood (Lucas Hedges) provides Qohen with the answers, but he's too absorbed in his work on the "Zero Theorem" to accept it.

There are elements of David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis in Qohen's philosophical quest, in the oddball characters he meets along the way, and his perennial absence of feeling. And in the Zen imagery of a nude Waltz spiralling through the void, there's a bit of Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain. Both of those films were more coherent and emotionally engaging than The Zero Theorem, although Terry Gilliam's film grows on you, once you accept that it's not Brazil Part II. There are definite touches of Gilliam's 1985 masterpiece here, particularly the awkward marrying of archaic and ultra-modern technologies. But don't expect a script of Tom Stoppard wit, swerve, and clarity.

Waltz is a fantastic presence – which is necessary, because most of the story plays out in his home: an echochamber of a converted church, whose baptismal font now serves as a washing up bowl. We see him at work, attempting to order the universe via a 3D game block game, fighting against entropy; against the inevitable demise of conscious matter and with it the question: What does it all mean? The problem is, he's waiting for an answer. The very point is uncertainty, the propulsive force of our species.

Whether all this makes for a particularly cinematic experience, I'm not sure. The Cronenberg and Aronofsky films I mentioned were successful because, for all their vast questions, their focus was narrow and their plots simple. The Zero Theorem is at its best when at its least manic – perhaps, its least 'Gilliam-esque' – lost in the quiet intimacy between Qohen and Bainsley. Like Wes Anderson's latest, this feels like the film of an auteur fighting against two opposing impulses. The results, particularly when seen as a straightforward study of depression, are interesting, if not entirely successful.


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