The Zone of Interest (2023)

by | Dec 17, 2023 | Movie Reviews, New In Theaters | 0 comments

The Zone of Interest is a completely unsettling experience as you witness a Nazi family make their home a paradise right outside the walls of Auschwitz. Adapted from a novel of the same name written by Martin Amis, this study of pure evil is a unique and heart wrenching take on the Holocaust as it painfully shows the willful ignorance of the Germans who sat by and pretended everything was normal. This film is certainly powerful, though it’s one that’s experimental enough that I’d imagine a short film of the same nature would prove more effect in terms of storytelling.

The Zone of Interest

Rudolf Hoss (Christian Friedel) is the Auschwitz commandant for the Nazi’s, and he has created a home for his family right outside the concentration camp gates. With the help of his wife Hedwig (Sandra Huller), Rudolf turns his home into a paradise right next to the endless screams and sounds of gunfire. As Rudolf continues to climb the ranks, he’s tasked with bringing improvements to the concentration camps around the country to fully realize Hitler’s goal.

Writer and Director Jonathan Glazer has only made four major films, including The Zone of Interest, but each has been incredibly distinctive projects which grow more powerful with each film. Glazer’s last film Under the Skin was an isolating and sometimes terrifying look at an alien existing in a world that routinely proves itself full of evil and wrongdoers. Some of that sentiment has carried over to this film, though it’s amplified tenfold as Glazer focuses on the casualness of this family and the way they live their lives with zero regard for the atrocities taking place next door.

Sandra Huller has had quite the year with two commanding and outstanding performances that both revolve around a woman with a heart of ice. In Anatomy of a Fall she’s a far more redeeming character, but in The Zone of Interest Huller is downright deplorable as the matriarch of the house who sees her home as some gift from God. Spending her time sorting through stolen Jewish belongings and reminding the Polish locals how lucky they are to be serving the Nazi’s in their home, Huller’s Hedwig is a truly malevolent woman who’s completely devoid of humanity as she’s able to sleep soundly through the illuminating flames from the furnace.

The Zone of Interest is filmed masterfully, always keeping the camp out of sight as the family went goes to great lengths to dress up the wall and their garden/pool area that lays in front of it. Christian Friedel’s Rudolf will haunt you with the ease of which he discusses incinerating the Jews and how most effectively to run the camps and divide labor. As uncomfortable as all the random screams are throughout the whole film and how unsettling discussions of mass murder are, The Zone of Interest comes at a time where the world really needs to understand the severity of what the Jewish people faced. While the story may not always be a focus and the though need for artistic flashes takes over from time to time, the imagery and horrific audio sit with you long after viewing and create a movie experience like none I’ve ever experienced.

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