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‘Zero and Ones’ review: Plague and paranoia

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‘Zero and Ones’ review: Plague and paranoia

Enigmatic to a fault, Abel Ferrara’s “Zeros and Ones” unfolds in an ambiguity that is both literal and conceptual. Even its star, Ethan Hawke – speaking to us as himself in two brief scenes that bookends the film – admits that, initially, he didn’t understand Ferrara’s script. . His frankness is convincing, comforting, and exhilarating with a story whose destination seems as vague as the motivations of his characters.

It’s clear that the hurdles of Pandemic filming were catnip for Ferrara, whose panicked camera patrols the deserted night streets of a closed Rome with JJ (Hawk), an elite American soldier on a mysterious undercover mission. This requires the finding of her twin brother, Justin (also Hawke), an imprisoned revolutionary who we see interrogated and tortured repeatedly.

Supervised by shadowy alien agents, JJ crawls from one covert encounter to another, constantly filming his progress. Ruthless, grainy close-ups capture him sipping tea with a mother and child in an empty apartment—perhaps with his brother’s family—and later, with a mullah at a mosque. A terrorist attack on the city may be imminent, but JJ is otherwise associated with a few slimy prostitutes (“they’re both negative,” helps his madam) and a beautiful Russian woman (played by the director’s partner Christina Chiriak). who is forcing her to have sex at gunpoint. By this juncture, the only thing we know for sure is that Ferrara, blessed with her guttersnip spirit, is still bravely, steadfastly herself.

Firmly shouldering this combative, barely penetrating narrative, Hawk easily separates JJ’s unmistakable intensity from his brother’s delusions (whose messianic ranting as John Brown in last year’s Showtime drama “The Good Lord Bird”). Hawke’s startling performance in the . that which has been abandoned by God and compassion alike.

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With its stinging, apocalyptic aesthetic and persistent paranoia, this spooky political thriller is all about one mood: conspiratorial, sinister, volatile. Here, the stuff of pandemic life becomes even more ominous: a cleaning team on the subway recounts the plague thriller-like “Contagion” (2011), and a suddenly-branded thermometer on JJ’s forehead plays like a gunshot. . How do we tell the good guys from the bad when everyone is wearing a mask?

Absolutely shocking, yet nothing short of intriguing, “Zero and Ones” lives on in mind. Even though you think you’ve erased it, Its cold twigs keep sticking.

zeros and ones
Rated R for seduction and torture. Walking Time: 1 hour 25 minutes. Available to rent or buy in theaters and on Amazon, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

#review #Plague #paranoia

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