The Zone of Interest | TIFF 2023 | Review by: Stefano Bove


The Zone of Interest may not be for everyone for it's lack of narrative but that is the beauty of the movie and it is what puts it at the top of my list for 2023.

A family of a Nazi general that runs the Auschwitz concentration camp are living a wonderful life on a beautiful property right next door to the camp. They share a wall with the perimeter but that does not stop them from enjoying their days out in the sun, tending to their garden and enjoying the neighbouring outdoors. Everyone is well aware of the events taking place over the wall but it is not necessary to see in order to convey the horror to us viewers. It is somehow more traumatizing just hearing the scream coming from a distance while the family is enjoying their luxurious life just feet away.  

 Christian Friedel plays Nazi concentration camp commander, Rudolf Hoss. He fits the profile of a tough soldier who shows almost no emotion or love to either his wife or kids but it is mostly his duty as a commander that forces him to keep his emotions at bay. He is in charge of all aspects of the camp and we see what his job entails through phone calls and meetings. It is run like any other business and really puts into perspective the grandeur that is the Nazi wheel that has rarely been displayed on film. Rudolf is a work horse and a model employee. His ambition is actually scary when seeing his sheer lack of human emotion and empathy for what he does for a living. His only one goal, it hitting his targets. His wife, Hedwig Hoss is presented as a naïve housewife but as the film progresses, you realize that she is just as cruel and power hungry as any other Nazi soldier and might as well be pulling the trigger herself over the wall at the camp. Both of these actors are just fantastic in these roles and without really doing or saying much, are able to tell u everything we need to know about them.

The art of the story is in the lack of narrative, because their lives are meant to be displayed as mundane as it focuses on regular everyday issues that the average person has to deal with; work/life balance, managing the home and garden, and putting out fires at work but that is all contrasted by what we don't see happening behind the walls. The consistency of camp shot that are almost Wes Anderson-esk, give us all the information we need to see in order to understand the pain and suffering happening over the camp walls. This film is a reminder of what people are capable of terrible things if they believe in their own conviction.

This deep dive into the complicity of everyday people in some of the most heinous acts in human history makes this one of the most harrowing Holocaust stories ever told.  


Review by Stefano Bove

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