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Best Picture Binge - The Zone of Interest

An unblinking masterpiece.

The Zone of Interest is a 2023 historical drama film directed by Jonathan Glazer, written by Jonathan Glazer, produced by Film4, Access, Polish Film Institute, JW Films, and Extreme Emotions, and distributed by A24 and Gutek Film. It is based off of Martin Amis's 2014 novel of the same name. The film stars Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller. It was nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best International Feature Film, and Best Sound.

"The life we enjoy is very much worth the sacrifice." - Rudolf Höss


Rudolf Höss, commandent of Auschwitz concentration camp, strives to build a dream life for his family right next to the horrors of the Holocaust.

The Sweet

This is one of the most unique and most disturbing experiences I have ever had watching a film.

The whole point of The Zone of Interest is that nothing horrific happens on screen. If you watched this movie on mute, basically nothing happens. What makes this film terrifying is the sound. In most movies, you don't hear the background noise. If there's a film set in New York, you'll hear honking cars and bustling city streets outside of an apartment or work building. Here, instead of hoking cars and city streets, you hear the sounds of the Holocaust: screams and gunshots and crying. It is so incredibly upsetting. And it is a super interesting and unique way to portray the Holocaust.

The way that the characters just don't care about the horrors going around them is horrific as well. This is where the cinematography is especially powerful. The camera will show this beautiful garden but outside of the walls of the garden is Auschwitz. The characters don't even notice the noises around them, and it is just so disturbing. Their conversations are backed with the noises of the Holocaust, and they are just so used to it and just don't care at all.

I have to say that this movie is very well made but I don't have a lot of positives. The movie is designed to be a unique, horrific experience, but it isn't really meant to be your typical movie with a story and characters. So I appreciate it for what it is, but there just isn't a lot here to discuss besides the inherent way that the film is crafted.

The Sour

As visceral and horrifying as this film is, it does drag on for too long. I don't think I needed to see an hour and forty minutes of this. You get the point of the film within the first twenty minutes, but it's a feature-length film. I think The Zone of Interest would've worked best as a quick-punch short film that has this mundane story surrounded by the horrors of Auschwitz. It's not meant to be entertaining, but it is a very, very difficult watch.

I also think the built-in premise of the movie doesn't work as soon as they try to turn these people into characters. Near the end of the film, the main character moves out of Auschwitz but his family stays. We start to follow the main character around his Nazi office job, and it isn't interesting or terrifying. The thing that made the other parts so upsetting, the sound design, is completely gone once the Nazi commandent leaves. It's a strange ending.

Does This Movie Deserve Its Best Picture Nomination?

I don't know how I feel about this film overall, but it is incredibly unique. This is such a different and creative (?) way to portray the Holocaust, and I think, for that, it deserves the nomination. Beyond just the uniqueness, the cinematography and direction is amazing. I think unique, interesting movies that are very well done deserve Best Picture nominations, and that's what The Zone of Interest is.

So, yes, The Zone of Interest deserves its Best Picture nod.

Final Thoughts and Score

I don't know how I feel about this film. On the one hand, I did not enjoy it at all. On the other hand, I really appreciate it and think it is very well done.

So I do think I am going to go Savory here. Age range is 16+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)

"The Zone of Interest"

Fun Factor: 1/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 8/10

Characters: 6/10

Quality: 8.5/10

Directed by Jonathan Glazer

Rated PG-13 for frightening themes and images, mild violence, thematic elements

Released on December 15, 2023

1 hour and 45 minutes

Christian Friedel as Rudolf Höss

Sandra Hüller as Hedwig Höss


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