The Zone of Interest by Jonathan Glazer [10/10]

I read Martin Amis’s wonderfully, horribly strange novel, The Zone of Interest, a decade ago, amidst an unsuccessful attempt to learn about evil, in particular whether evil is inherent or environmentally formed. Who could have imagined anyone would fashion a narrative about the domestic lives of the monsters running Auschwitz’s death camps? I cannot recall much about that novel (around that time I gave up on trying to “understand” evil), but I dreaded seeing Jonathan Glazer’s film of the same name. Glazer, in the end, uses little of Amis’s storyline, instead dwelling on the domestic life of Rudolf Höss, Auschwitz’s inhuman commandant, in a slowly unfolding, inexorable litany of implied horrors and banal inanities. The Zone of Interest is everything I shrank from, a glimpse at inhumanity at its worst, an inhumanity of ignoring and dehumanizing. Christian Friedel perfectly captures the ordinary-but-rabid Rudolf and Sandra Hüller is equally effective as his shallow-as-shit wife. Mica Levi’s score is bleak, bleak, bleak, while Glazer pans through the lives of family, with lots of children shots, whilst also indulging in artistic touches such as an opening black scene and a fairytale told under the gaze of thermal night-vision goggles. So much is implied that The Zone of Interest is properly a horror movie, but it’s one that, in line with the “lest we forget” cliche, we must, must watch.

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