Son of Saul
**** OUT OF 4
First-time Hungarian director Laszlo Nemes creates a profound vision of Nazi hell with this art-house pic that eschews any trace of sentimentality. The film focuses like a laser on Saul Auslander (Geza Rohrig), an inmate incarcerated at Auschwitz serving his time with the Sonderkommando, Jews who were assigned to a special work unit forced to dispose of the corpses and bodily fluids of other Jews. They are forbidden from any communication with the other inmates.
Two things distinguish this film from others on the concentration camps;(1)We see everything from Saul’s POV (2) The film is about the two-thirds who didn’t make it through This movie is the anti-Schindler’s list and the antithesis of Spielberg’s holocaust.
Early on in the narrative, Saul sees a body of a boy he believes to be his son, and he drags the life-less corpse around attempting to give it a proper burial with the blessing of a rabbi. Saul risks everything as he undertakes this mission to prevent his son from being burned up in a crematorium.
The horror of the camp takes place off screen or out of focus. The sound design of beatings and murders immerses us in this dark environment and makes you feel you are right there.
This is an extraordinary film and an obscene thriller with a raw and riveting performance from Rohrig. The screenplay was written by Mr. Nemes and Clara Royer. The DP was Matyas Erdely who shot the movie in 35mm over 28 days on an old military base outside of Budapest.
”Son of Saul” won the Grand Prix at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and is Hungary’s nomination for the foreign-language Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards.