“Be vewy, vewy quiet. We’re hunting entities.”
Back in 1983, Terry Gilliam and his Monty Python cohorts took on the Meaning of Life, never quite putting a definition to it other than demonstrating that our lives are the sum of our experiences. Gilliam’s latest candy-colored mindbender, The Zero Theorem, is a film about a man who is also looking for a deeper context to this thing called existence. In narrowing his scope to one character, more or less, Gilliam is able to tackle vastly large ideas without having to pretend that he has all the answers. There is always meaning if you look for it. And if you don’t, well, that sure is some pretty scenery, isn’t it, Ma?
A hairless Christoph Waltz plays Qohen Leth, a computer programmer (for lack of a better job description) whose list of phobias, ticks, and eccentricities could fill a medical text. He lives the bulk of his solitude in a converted church where rats and birds are his unofficial roommates, only traveling outside to go to work for a company called Mancom that deals in crunching entities and liquid memory and other buzzwords that aren’t the point. Qohen’s main goals involve working from home and staying around his telephone, waiting for a magical call in which all of life’s mysteries will be revealed.