Deeply depressing Holocaust film, which is nevertheless a must-see.
- Son of Saul review by PV
This really is a depressing movie. From Hungary. But there is so little dialogue in the whole film, it is almost mimed and coulod be in any language.
It's filmed in hand-held camera style - like Blair Witch Project or other movies which aim to create Cinama Verite and that LIVE feel which puts the audience in the midst of the action - or, as here, the horror.
What really makes this movies, though, is the way it shows the workaday reality of life at a concentration camp - it's all scrubbing, cleaning, sorting, obeying orders, as at an abattoir. That is quite unlike glossy Holocaust Hollywood movies. This is all the more horrible for its minimalism.
There is also interesting ambiguity: is the body the man's son, or merely a symbol of innocence?
It's all relentlessly gloomy and sad, but a must-see movie and possibly the best Hungarian film I have ever seen.
5 out of 6 members found this review helpful.
Cleverly shot but completely unengaging
- Son of Saul review by RW
This is a film about the horrors of the concentration camp and a hard-to-understand quest of one of its workers; it's bleak, cleverly shot and truly horrifying. Some scenes are more like a slasher film such as Hostel than the kind of war film usually made.
The big problem with it is that there is absolutely nothing to engage the viewer, the basic premise of the main character's drive throughout the film just seems crazy (even allowing for the insanity of the place he's in and the madness of the Nazis). It's unremittingly depressing, nothing to cheer you in the way of, say, La vita è bella, absolutely nothing to lift the spirit anywhere in the film at all. All that is left at the end of the film is a feeling of utter futility; coupled with the lack of coherent story and the confusing shallow depth of field it's a deeply unsatisfactory watch.
I really could not recommend this as a film to watch and I struggle to understand why this has won so many plaudits.
2 out of 6 members found this review helpful.
Intense, not a pleasure, but worth watching
- Son of Saul review by RC
Shot almost entirely in closeup of Saul's face with an impressive soundscape building an intense atmosphere of random horror. Creates a convincing impression of how the people caught in that situation must have dealt with what was happening around them. Action is glimpsed out of focus in the background, dialogue is minimal, everything is held inside blanking out the horror around them.
Unremitting, it almost became tedious about half way through - there is not really a coherent narrative, how could there be without it being either trivialising or portentous, it just IS.
As a piece of film-making it is impressive. As a representation of how humans can deal with inhumanity it is convincing. If you can watch it without bringing your personal baggage about WW2 and what happened in Hungary/Germany then it is worth a viewing but don't expect to be entertained.
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.