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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:

Terry Gilliam

Writers:

Pat Rushin (screenplay), Terry Gilliam (additional dialogue)
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Popularity
3,570 ( 152)
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christoph Waltz ... Qohen Leth
Gwendoline Christie ... Woman in a Street Commercial
Rupert Friend ... Man in Street Commercial
Ray Cooper Ray Cooper ... Man in Street Commercial
Lily Cole ... Woman in Street Commercial
David Thewlis ... Joby
Sanjeev Bhaskar ... Doctor
Peter Stormare ... Doctor
Ben Whishaw ... Doctor
Mélanie Thierry ... Bainsley
Matt Damon ... Management
Lucas Hedges ... Bob
Margarita Doyle Margarita Doyle ... Mancom Computerised Lips
Tilda Swinton ... Dr. Shrink-Rom
Emil Hostina ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

UK | Romania | France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 August 2014 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

O Teorema Zero See more »

Filming Locations:

Bucharest, Romania See more »

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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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color | Black and White (surveillance footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to the Sunday Times, Bill Murray was offered a role but had to decline because of scheduling conflicts. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

Bob: Are you having a good time?
Qohen Leth: Approximately
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 »

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User Reviews

 
Exit the void
17 March 2014 | by rooeeSee 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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