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Movies on Max: THE ZONE OF INTEREST

by Jef Dinsmore
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A24 has had another title drop on HBO & Max in April. It is the historical drama THE ZONE OF INTEREST. The acclaimed film was written and directed by Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) and is loosely based off of the Martin Amis novel of the same name. The film focuses on the life of Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Höss and his wife Hedwig, who live with their family in a home directly next to the infamous concentration camp. It is stated that Glazer wanted to show that there was still human kindness and normalcy amongst those who were so evil towards a certain sector of humanity.

Among its accolades, this movie received five nominations, including Best Picture, at the 96th Academy Awards, winning two: Best International Feature (the first for a non-English British film) and Best Sound. At Cannes it was awarded the second highest honor of last year, the Grand Prix. As the 105-minute movie opens, it is 1943 and Rudolf Höss, commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, lives with his wife Hedwig and their five children in an idyllic home next to the camp. Höss takes the children out to swim and fish and Hedwig spends time tending the garden. Locals handle the chores, and detainees’ belongings are given to the family. Beyond the garden wall, gunshots, shouting, and the sounds of trains and furnaces are audible.

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It certainly doesn’t bode as a comfortable movie to watch, right? But, we’ve learned over the decades that movies like this are hard not to watch. Empire Magazine says, “The horror is unseen but underlying, and all the more arresting because of it.” That’s because it was an unseen atrocity to the family, even though it was carried out just over the garden wall. The Chicago Reader mentioned, “It’s a claustrophobic and uncomfortable viewing experience because it doesn’t ask for our sympathy—it confronts us with our passivity.” The Wall Street Journal adds, “It depicts no violence, and barely even shows any Jews being menaced. Yet it’s lacerating, a master class in how to show without showing.” But not everyone thought it should be displayed – Sight & Sound, to be fair cited, “The banality of the Höss family and the bureaucracy of genocide are no revelation, and there’s something wrongheaded in Glazer’s cold replication of their murderous perspective and peekaboo roundabout glimpses of the Nazi atrocity.”

Most liked its approach to the topic – 

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Movie more from A24 on the way to Max soon. 

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