Difficult task of a reporter and not a critic when reviewing zeros and ones. Because it will be almost impossible for them to summarize and tell what the film is about. There is no conventional narrative. Nor is it a screenplay by Jean-Luc Godard. And why the plot of the film with which Abel Ferrara shot Ethan Hawke In the midst of the pandemic, mostly on the streets of Rome – and at night -, it lends itself more to confusion than to union.
There are a lot of ideas in the film, that’s what It doesn’t have a common thread that integrates them and does not group them, which is not the same thing.
Ethan Hawke is the double protagonist. He is JJ, an American soldier who arrives, masked, in Rome. Its passage through the train station and deserted streets reminds us too much of the severe confinement with which the coronavirus pandemic began. COVID-19.
Abel Ferrara never mentions or something like covid maybe so subconsciously we assume it. It does not matter.
When he travels through those gloomy Roman roads, and also reaches the Vatican -Abel Ferrara was obsessed with religion, like Paul Schrader, and not so much Martin Scorsese: here are quotes from Jesus and St. Francis-, JJ will visit various characters. His goal is to get information about his twin brother, Justin. It depends on Justin who does it, is he classified as a rebel, a communist or a revolutionary.
It does not matter.
Everything is so dark and confused in the images, that cinematographer Sean Price Williams solved his work by aiming for low – very low – lighting, making the frames dirty and, at the same time, with the camera often in hand and not leaning on a tripod, staggering to the point of view.
Want more disorientation? There are dozens of sound counterpoints. As if Ferrara were more attentive to image and sound than to the story itself.
The variety of characters that cross the screen includes everything. From Russian mobsters to Asian prostitutes, Muslims, foul-mouthed people, there are torture scenes and someone is forced to have sex with a beautiful woman, told that he should only get her pregnant and that they -the bad guys- have a revolutionary procedure.
Perhaps the character of Justin, JJ’s drugged and less shielded twin, is an anarchist or not. Here we know that the anarchist is the director of A fucking cop.
If they say a creator shouldn’t explain a movie with words, don’t be surprised when zeros and ones opened with Ethan Hawke turning on a camera and talking to her. In a sort of preamble, she tells why she wanted to work with the director.
And then, at the end of the credits, there’s an epilogue. “Well, the movie is over. I just saw it, and so do you,” Hawke says, looking not sure what to say next.
“When I read the script -even if it makes it clear that he couldn’t call what the director sent him that-, I didn’t understand a word, but I liked it”. Deeds and not words.
“Zeros and Ones”
Suspense. United States/Italy, 2021. Original title: “Zeros and Ones”. 87′, SAM 16. From: Abel Ferrara. With: Ethan Hawke, Cristina Chiriac, Valerio Mastandrea, Phil Neilson. Available in: Amazon Prime videos.
Charles Hurd is an entertainment journalist for News Rebeat. He brings a fresh and engaging voice to the world of pop culture, covering the latest developments in film, television, music, and more.