Abel Ferrara’s work can be a challenge and is often divisive whether it be the grungy horror of his notorious debut Driller Killer to his more commercial work like The King of New York it can often be seen as a little indulgent. Since moving to Rome his output has been prolific with documentary’s and feature films shot often using guerrilla film making techniques and in that respect ‘Zeros and Ones’ has used that method having been made during the pandemic lockdown. Shot largely at night in an often eerily empty Rome the film is bookended by its star Ethan Hawke speaking to camera ambiguous in whether he is in character or not especially in the epilogue where what appears to be Ethan the man before pulling the run from under us saying that this is part of the film.
Zeros and Ones is a thriller with Hawke as some sort of special ops soldier but might also be a mercenary in an anti-terrorist op. At the same time he plays his own twin brother, a revolutionary lefty and the sort of soap dodger you see at any rally regardless of the cause and merely there for a bit of aggro. Fortunately Hawke the agent provocateur is being held captive mercifully being prevented from quoting, of all people, the lyrics of Woody Guthrie songs in public. Hawke the soldier meanwhile is under the grip of some Russian oligarchs who for reasons never really made clear is forced to have sex with one of their women so she can have a baby. And whilst all this is going on the Vatican gets blown up by what looks like the sort of cut price CGI cobbled together on a phone app.
Ferrara’s film usually divide audiences and this is no different. A little overlong even at 87 minutes but there’s a plethora of ideas amongst the Christian quotes from St Francis of Assisi and metaphors which fall over each other as they vie for attention at the whilst both Hawke and Ferrara struggle make head or tails of modern life in a world that is teetering on the brink of global catastrophe.
We spoke to Abel Ferrrara about the film which you can watch here….
Here’s the Zeros and Ones trailer…..