‘The Zone of Interest’ Review – Jonathan Glazer’s Haunting, Restrained Journey Into Evil

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  • area of ​​interest HOSS takes a unique approach to the Holocaust by focusing on the mundane lives of a family, reminding us of the atrocities that took place on the other side of the Wall.
  • Director Jonathan Glazer effectively creates a sense of terror without showing the actual events at Auschwitz, relying on the audience’s familiarity with the story.

  • Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller give harrowing performances, portraying the fear and acceptance of their brutal characters.

This review was originally part of our coverage for the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

before we see a frame of area of ​​interestFrom sexy animals And under the skin director jonathan glazerWe can feel the omnipresent nature of evil. As the words “The Zone of Interest” appear on the screen, they are soon engulfed in darkness, turning blackvanishing into a distorted nightmare and micah levyThe appalling score of. Even before the film begins, Glazer puts us in a state of visceral terror, and prepares us for his unique take on the story of the Holocaust.

area of ​​interest

The commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig, attempt to create a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp.

release date

15 December 2023

director

jonathan glazer

mold

Sandra Hüller, Christian Friedel, Freya Krutzkam, Max Beck

Order

105 minutes

When Glazer first shows us the Höss home, very few things seem out of the ordinary, But this house shares a wall with Auschwitz, and while the Hoss family sometimes seems idyllic, we are always reminded of what is happening on the other side of that wall. On one side of that wall is an effort to normalize domestic conditions, and on the other side, there are some of the worst atrocities ever committed in human history. Rudolf Hoess (white ribbon‘S Christian Friedel) is the commandant of Auschwitz, and he and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Huller) have come from a very young age, and now have their dream home, with several children and a handful of Jewish women who work in their household.

Glazer—who also wrote the script on a very loose basis martin amis‘The book of the same name deliberately makes the story of the Hoss family mundane. Hedwig shows her mother her huge garden, which we can see spanning the length of an entire building on the other side of the wall, while Rudolf’s work involves finding more efficient ways to get rid of hundreds of bodies a day. No matter what the Hoss family does, the suffering on the other side of that wall rages on day after day,

‘The Zone of Interest’ takes a macabre approach to Holocaust film

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Glazer makes a surprisingly effective choice of never showing us what’s really happening at Auschwitz., and frankly, we don’t need to look beyond what countless other movies have shown us. Glazer knows we’ve seen that story before, and as the audience, we bring our experience with these stories to this film, filling in the blanks he doesn’t show us. The result is a choice that is even more disturbing than the film shows us.

But area of ​​interest Always reminding us of what is going on in subtle and extremely overt ways. As we follow the Hoss family, we constantly hear gunshots, each of which is likely to take another life. While HOSS Home seems to ignore these inconveniences, every shot is a shock to the audience. When they decide to have a garden party with a buffet of food and a pool, we can see smoke from the trains billowing overhead. With Levy’s sloppy, disturbing, and underutilized score, area of ​​interest It’s an audible shock – even when the world may seem normal on the surface,

Yet even Glazer’s more explicit mentions of what’s happening are jarring in their own right., One particular shot shows several of Hedwig’s flowers, as we hear blood-curdling screams, until the screen turns completely red, ending with an unexpected cut to reality – just to give us the creeps. And getting a small dose of fear is happening just feet away. Glazer’s approach to these grand moments is particularly powerful near the end of the film, as Rudolph appears to have a moment of self-awareness that is similar to the end of the film. joshua oppenheimerincredible documentary glimpse of silencePaired with a vision of what would happen to all his hard work.

In a way, Glazer’s approach is that of Amis. area of ​​interest It is quite similar to his adaptation michel faber‘S under the skin: Reducing the spirit of the story to its core essence and telling that story primarily through impactful visuals. in the way that under the skin Dissecting the science fiction story, Glazer dissected what we know as a Holocaust storyShowing us that pure evil doesn’t always have to be big and dominant, but rather, can be quite common and every day – an even more important message for the evils of today.

Adapting Martin Amis’s novel, Glazer distills this story down to the pure evil that came from that book, a darkness that seeped into every page and every action of these characters. Glazer’s approach is far more abstract than Amis’s story, allowing us to feel the rising tension without prioritizing narrative or character. Essentially, Glazer is giving us the same effect that Amis was able to give, but without talking about this evil directly. We can feel the darkness surrounding every family gathering, we can hear the roar of atrocities, and the indirect camera which is more of a spectator than an actual participant is able to show the normalcy of this family, Which only makes what we are not seeing even more terrifying.

Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller are troubled by their characters’ mundane lives

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Even though Glazer is showing us the “normal” daily life of the Hoss family, We still feel as if something terrible is just around the corner-literally and figuratively. This is largely due to the restrained performances of Friedel and Hueller, who spend their days aware of the power they have and the impact they have on those around them. We’ve seen countless movies about genocide, and Glazer knows we’re bringing those experiences with us area of ​​interest, By not showing us what’s happening beyond the wall, we bring our previous knowledge from other films into this story, and that makes the lack of knowing even more jarring and frightening. We can hear gunshots and the occasional scream, and we know what’s happening because we’ve seen these horrors firsthand. Even though we react to every reminder about what’s going on beyond the wall, the way Hüller and Friedel are able to go about their business without hesitation shows us the evil within them. which Glazer does not need to present to us.

Friedel and Hueller are particularly excellent at presenting this idea, as they are able to present an atmosphere of dread even when they aren’t doing anything directly monstrous. Just their presence and acceptance of their situation drives them wild – they don’t need to oversell their candid nature. if anything, the clumsiest parts of area of ​​interest Come on when Glazer’s Rudolph and Hedwig brings the audience straight to the ideas we’ve already gathered in the context of the story., which makes them feel like Glazer is beating us over the head with things we already know. For example, when one of the Jewish women working in Hoss’s household makes an honest mistake, Hedwig reminds her that her husband could have easily spread the poor woman’s ashes without thinking. But given that we have already seen the fear that these women live in as servants to the HOSS family, the possibility of this type of scenario is already evident from the simple way they move around in this family.

Glazer and cinematographer Lukasz Zal (cold war, IDA) shoot area of ​​interest mostly during the day and in natural light, once again presents this house as a paradise of happiness, which makes the story even more distressing. It is easy to hide during the day, but it is impossible to escape from the constantly burning fire in the dark at night. This is the night where Glazer gives us small glimpses of hope by using negative film to reverse the narrative, and show us how one of the smallest – but still extremely dangerous – efforts to fight against oppressors has ever ended. Hope was not completely lost.

area of ​​interestLike son of saul Or white ribbon Before it finds ways to continue telling these important stories, But to do so in a way that presents these narratives in a completely unique way, Glazer’s latest version fits his signature style, breaking down a genre and working with the framework that makes these stories so disturbing.

area of ​​interest

Jonathan Glazer’s ‘The Zone of Interest’ is a haunting look at the Holocaust, making rich use of visuals and sound to create an emotional experience rather than a narrative.

Pros

  • Unlike any other viewing of the Holocaust, Zone of Interest uses horrifying sound and direction to create a disturbing experience.
  • Jonathan Glazer’s camera keeps the audience at a distance, but close enough to feel the horror emanating from this camp.
  • The film’s conclusion is a stark reminder of Legacy of Evil, and a poignant end to a shocking tale.

area of ​​interest Now available to stream on Max in the US

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