Out of sight.. out of their minds

Will Ferris
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The Zone of Interest (12A, 105 Minutes)

Never has a film been more timely. The Zone of Interest, directed by Jonathan Glazer, arrives not only during the 79th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, but also at a time in our world where new history is being made for all the wrong reasons.

There is mass slaughter taking place, innocents being persecuted, conflicts raging across the sea and the far rght is stepping out of the shadows across Europe once more.

Many of the decisions made over the next year will define generations to come. Glazer’s hauntingly poignant drama asks an uncomfortable but vital question: if terrible things happened, would you sit back and watch?

Based very loosely on a novel by the late Martin Amis, the film is a fly-on-the-wall piece which follows the daily lives of SS Officer Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedl), his wife Hedwig (Sandra Hüller) and their five children.

They live in a large house, a swimming pool, lots of friends and servants who tend to their every need. Life couldn’t get more perfect for them.

But the unsettling reality of this family haven is that they live right next door to Auschwitz. As the family go about their routines, distant gunshots, cries for help, glimpses of prisoners in their striped uniforms bring things into hideou perspective.

Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of this brilliantly made film is the totally mundane, ignorant nature of this family whilst they are living in the very cesspit of evil. The war crimes taking place around them are completely irrelevant to their own lives and so they simply choose to ignore it.

That ability to censor the brutality around them becomes even more shocking when visitors – Hewdig’s mother, in particular – are repulsed by what they see whilst the family seems none the wiser.

This is an exposé of not just the pure wickedness of the Aryan ideal and its poison, which has already spread vast and deep into every cell of the Höss family by this point.

The performances are excellent, with a total absence of morality which makes them seem far more otherworldly despite their seemingly happy lives.

It’s only by the film’s climax, in which we see that suppressed horror seep out of Höss for but a mere few seconds, that the undeniable madness of the holocaust, and its legacy all these years later, comes into full focus.

There is no sugar coating, no blanket in which to hide. This is an explicit take on atrocity; a large brick wall surrounding the family home for one purpose – so the camp and murders taking place within don’t ruin their view.

Mesmerizing but challenging, this should be seen by all.

RATING 10/10