“The Zone of Interest,” directed by Jonathan Glazer and adapted from Martin Amis’ novel, offers a chilling exploration of the banality of evil in Nazi Germany. The film received acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, earning the Grand Prix Prize.
The story revolves around Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, and his family who reside in a house near the concentration camp’s walls. While Rudolf is at work, his wife, Hedwig, tends to their household and children. The film primarily remains within this domestic setting, with the horrors of the concentration camp merely hinted at through background visuals and sounds. This stark juxtaposition serves as a driving force for the film.
Glazer deliberately portrays the characters living seemingly “normal” lives to emphasize the extent of their evil. The narrative is thin but effective, focusing on Rudolf’s transfer to Berlin and the family’s decision regarding relocation or separation. This narrative minimalism highlights the inconsequential nature of their problems within their larger context.
The film is challenging to watch, with Glazer’s masterful direction amplifying discomfort. His stationary camera placement, combined with Mica Levi’s haunting score, underscores the audience’s helplessness in witnessing the unfolding tragedy.
While the film effectively explores the banality of evil through its focus on the Höss family’s mundane lives, it occasionally sacrifices a clear narrative for fragmented storytelling. This approach leaves the audience to infer the film’s themes, resulting in a movie that communicates its message indirectly.
Overall, “The Zone of Interest” offers a harrowing portrayal of a dark period in history, and while it may lack a cohesive narrative, its exploration of the banality of evil is thought-provoking.
Sandra Hüller, Christian Friedel
USA-UK-Poland 2023. 106min
With English subtitles
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