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‘The Zone of Interest’ Review: Ordinary Monsters

The Zone of Interest Review

The Zone of Interest presents a cinematic paradox, blending the mundane with the horrific in a manner that is both unsettling and profound.

The film, set against the horrific backdrop of the Holocaust, offers a jarring juxtaposition of the daily life of a seemingly ordinary German family with the unspeakable atrocities occurring just beyond their pristine backyard. The narrative centres around a family man (Christian Friedel) striving to ascend the ranks within the Nazi hierarchy while his wife (Sandra Hüller) embodies the stereotypical role of a housewife, both consciously oblivious to the war’s devastation.

The film’s pacing is deliberate, requiring viewers to be patient as the narrative slowly unfolds. This methodical tempo is not without purpose; it mirrors the creeping normality of evil, a theme that underpins the story’s unsettling core. It’s not a film for those seeking quick resolutions but a canvas for reflection, demanding engagement from its audience on a reflective level.

What sets The Zone of Interest apart is its unique portrayal of the Holocaust. The film chooses not to depict the atrocities directly; rather, it is harrowingly implied. This method proves to be disturbingly effective, as the horrors of genocide are left to the viewer’s imagination, guided by the chilling normalcy displayed by the central family. The film’s refusal to show the brutality outright lends an eerie quality to the narrative, making the unseen horrors linger more prominently in the viewer’s mind.

The film’s true horror stems from its portrayal of the family at its centre. The husband, an everyman, is ambitious and career-driven, a trait not uncommon in any era. The mother represents the quintessential housewife, concerned with domestic life, seemingly indifferent to the suffering surrounding her. The familial interactions could belong to any household, yet they occur in the shadow of genocide. This contrast is deeply unsettling, and viewers are torn between the instinct to empathise with the family unit and the horror of their complicit nature.

The Zone of Interest is a film for those who seek more than mere entertainment from cinema—it is an art piece that challenges, disturbs, and provokes. It stands out as a unique Holocaust narrative that does not rely on graphic depictions of violence to make its point. Instead, it uses the power of suggestion to paint a picture of horror that is all the more effective because it is so eerily familiar.

Fun Fact:

Director Jonathan Glazer used up to five fixed cameras in the house and garden with no visible crew to capture many scenes so the actors didn’t know if they were being shot in a close-up or wide shot. They were totally immersed in the scene and enjoyed working in that realistic environment.

Note: This review was written with the help of AI.
The Zone of Interest
The Zone of Interest masterfully confronts the unsettling normalcy of evil, offering a profound, if disturbing, reflection on humanity's capacity for indifference in the face of atrocity.
Story
85
Characters
85
Performances
90
Direction
90
Entertainment Value
65
83
1604 posts

About author
Loves producing content as much as consuming it. Deserted Island Movie Collection: The films of Quentin Tarantino. Best Movie Snack: Nachos.
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