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Nerdlocker Movie Review: Son of Saul

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Son of Saul is not for everybody. It’s a brutal film that makes for difficult viewing and it gives the audience a firsthand account of the Auschwitz concentration camp during WW2. It’s essentially on the job training, closely following Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner forced to aid with the disposal of gas chamber victims during the Holocaust. When he comes across the body of a boy he takes to be his own son, he risks everything and goes to great lengths in an effort to find a rabbi who can provide a proper burial.

Shot in 35mm, the film is a technical marvel and a testament to the power of filmmaking. It’s also the feel bad movie of the year and something I do not see myself revisiting (except perhaps in nightmares). The images of a living, breathing, Hell on Earth are forever scorched into my psyche, captured in long tracking shots. This is a horror film that is all the more scary because it’s not outlandish or fantastical. It’s very real and it’s sad. It’s also an acclaimed piece of art racking up awards like the Grand Prix at Cannes and numerous Best Foreign Film wins from critics associations. It’s nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Academy Awards and just won the Golden Globe, fine show for Hungary and first-time filmmaker/co-writer László Nemes.

What makes Son of Saul so potent is the gross level of realism it exhibits. It makes other Holocaust movies feel like… movies. This one feels more like a bad dream or experience, one you can’t shake. The sound design plays an important role and accents the horror on-screen and off. There’s no traditional score, just the churning sounds of the death camp to haunt you. Son of Saul fearlessly recreates a dark time in history, it’s not for the faint of heart, but it is a harrowing experience for those willing to endure it.

4 out of 5 Nerdskulls.

Son of Saul is now playing in Houston at Landmark River Oaks.

Trailer:

Stills:

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Salty Winters once said, "Everything I learned I learned from the movies." He was quoting Audrey Hepburn.