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Review: Son of Saul

Winner of the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Son of Saul (Saul Fia) is a triumphant directorial debut for writer/ director László Nemes. Shot on 35mm by skilled cinematographer Mátyás Erdély, the film is an unyielding glimpse into the monstrosities committed at Auschwitz in the waning years of World War two, as seen through the hollowed eyes of Hungarian Jew Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig, briliant in the ambitious role).

As a member of the Sonderkommando, the “favored” few Jewish prisoners forced into aiding the Nazis with varied gas chamber duties (namely, supervising countless people towards the chambers, lugging the bodies out afterwards, and discarding of the ashes), Saul is numb to his fellow Jews and the atrocities surrounding him daily. That is until he witnesses the murder of a young boy, who he confides to his fellow Sonderkommando is his son. With wild determination, in a race against time, he searches for a Rabbi to give the boy a traditional, faith-based burial. All the while his fellow prisoners are covertly planning an imminent violent attack on their captors and the Nazis are desperately massacring myriad more Jews as they learn of the Soviet army closing in on the camp.

With the camera clinging to Saul (much as the character clings to his fierce, dogged tenacity), the audience is taken on a fearless journey through which nightmares of those who witnessed the horrors are built upon.

One of the best and most unforgettable films of the year.

[star v=5]

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.