Son of Saul

"Essential"

Son of Saul Review


From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust drama. It's difficult to imagine a new way of approaching that topic, but writer-director Laszlo Nemes has come up with something that's staggeringly powerful in its simplicity, as he closely follows a tenacious man over two days at Auschwitz in 1944. Of course it's not always easy to watch. But it's so beautifully shot and acted that it's unforgettable.

The camera sticks very close to Saul (Geza Rohrig), a Jewish man working as a sonderkommando, threatened with death if he doesn't help the Nazis run their death camp. While cleaning out the gas chamber, Saul finds a young boy who's still barely alive. After the child dies, Saul asks the doctor (Sandor Zsoter) if he can secretly take the body and bury it according to Jewish tradition. This triggers an elaborate odyssey in which Saul tries to find a rabbi among the prisoners, during which he becomes entangled with a group that's planning a daring escape. Despite continual distractions, Saul never wavers on this quest, which gives his life meaning for a change as he imagines that he is doing all of this for his own son.

The trajectory of these events can hardly help but be deeply wrenching, considering the setting and subject matter. But filmmaker Nemes tells the story with a remarkable sensitivity, as the camera circles around Saul like a pesky fly in breathtakingly long shots. The horrors of the camp are blurred into the background, as if Saul has become numbed to them. And Rohrig is hugely engaging, a likeable man who clings to this mission even as he is continually dragged from it by heartless guards and pushy fellow inmates. Rohrig beautifully shows how Saul has learned to play the system and hide his emotions, although these events bring them surging dangerously close to the surface.

With its driving story and strikingly realistic setting, this film is utterly gripping. And it's also darkly disturbing in ways that are never expected. Hearing the German officers refer to the Jews as "swine" is brutal, and so is the arrogant machismo of the prisoners who are planning to flight back. In other words, there's a complexity to the movie that gets deep under the skin, offering a haunting insight into the power of human resilience and hope. And the film's skilful artistry is a potent reminder that there are always new ways to understand events we thought we knew too well already.

Rich Cline

Watch the trailer for Son Of Saul:



Son of Saul

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 107 mins

In Theaters: Friday 18th December 2015

Box Office USA: $1.8M

Budget: $1000 thousand

Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

Production compaines: Laokoon Filmgroup

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 158 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Laszlo Nemes

Producer: Gabor Rajna, Gabor Sipos

Starring: Géza Röhrig as Saul, Levente Molnár as Abraham, Urs Rechn as Biedermann, Todd Charmont as Bearded Prisoner, Jerzy Walczak as Rabbi in the Sonderkommando, Sándor Zsótér as Doctor, Marcin Czarnik as Feigenbaum

Contactmusic


Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.