Thursday, January 14, 2016

Son of Saul Review - 4 Stars

“Son of Saul” makes a unique contribution to the list of films about the Holocaust. Made in Hungary by director László Nemes, the story unfolds almost in silence with minimal subtitles. It starts, out of focus. After enough time to make us uncomfortable, Geza Rohrig as Saul comes into frame; and soon we discover he is one of the prisoners forced to help the Nazi’s exterminate the trainloads of Jews arriving by the hour. Saul herds passengers into the showers where they hear promises of hot soup and coffee and jobs on the other side. The camera stays on Saul as we hear their screams off screen. As the story begins, a young boy survives the gas. Nazi doctors surround the boy and suffocate him, saving the body for autopsy. Something makes Saul believe this young man is his son, although we’re never sure if that’s true. While his fellow workers plot an uprising, Saul plots for a proper funeral and burial for this boy. “Son of Saul” shows us the Holocaust through Saul’s eyes, with few (if any) wide views. It has urgency, intensity and great power, and leads to a conclusion that will stay with you for days. I this is the best foreign film of the year, and I believe the Oscars will agree. Does it deliver what it promises? Powerful Holocaust story with a unique perspective. Is it entertaining? Not fun to watch, but very powerful. Is it worth the price of admission? A deserving award contender.