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  • Writer's pictureSteve

The Zone of Interest (2023)

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Jonathan Glazer has always seemed to me to be the most curious of souls, with an enduring eye for a frame, each and every one deliberate, forceful and yet still delicate.He has fined-tuned this talent over decades, knowing always it is the viewer that interprets the picture. Art, in his eyes, has always been in the eye of the beholder, which is the reason he takes such care with his framing. No surprise then that he should take on the subject from Martin Amis' novel of the same name.

So what we have presented here was never going to be a blatant depiction of atrocity. Glazer was never so blunt, but his focus is unnervingly pointed at the ignominy of man. Here, he posits the question of ignorance as much as complicity going hand in hand with the evil that dare not speak its name, in a family that refuses to believe or even contemplate it, even on its very own doorstep.

When I finished Frankl's 'Man's Search For Meaning' the first time, I was struck by the matter-of-fact ordinaryness that he described in regard to the guards that both punished and humiliated their prisoners, with little or no feeling for them as human beings, even up close and personal, so I imagine that Glazers' portrayal here of a family that never experiences the horrors of what is going on right next door could be if not forgiven, then perhaps understood, in the absence of the horror, regardless of its location in relation to themselves.

We would like to think that we would never allow such a thing to happen in our modern, sophisticated day and age, but tell this to an innocent Ukranian citizen or someone huddling in fear in a bombed-out school in Rafa as we speak and ask them if humanity has progressed or not.

As an artistic commentary, this is littered with incredulity to eyes like ours, begging questions of silence in a morally unambiguous context. Visions of a happy, proud and abundant German family playing in their swimming pool as the steam from a train in the background brings prisoners to the camp is chilling and not by accident, but never blatant, allowing the viewer to realise the true horror behind the seemingly idyllic joy of Rudolf Höss' seemingly oblivious progeny.

The performances are exemplary with Sandra Hüller being the standout performance which has already been recognised by the awards roundabout already in full swing, although we still have to see what Oscar makes of it in a very strong group of nominees in a couple of weeks.

This is maybe less sobering due to its lack of depiction of horrific events, but no less considered for that fact of the sole reason of where we started. Our imaginations will and do conjur much worse than Glazer could show had he chosen to and his skill is that he knows this already.

Highly Recommended.


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