Mixed or average reviews - based on 27 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 27
  2. Negative: 0 out of 27
  1. 100
    Pitiless, bleak and despairing -- The Grey Zone refers to a world where everyone is covered with the gray ash of the dead, and it has been like that for so long they do not even notice anymore.
  2. No dramatic feature has ever come quite this close to the matter-of-fact ugliness of the Nazi crimes.
  3. Explores cloudy, discomforting realities of the Holocaust not usually addressed in such films.
  4. 88
    Gives life and meaning to an event that is little more than a footnote in history books (if that).
  5. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Extremely difficult but worthy film.
  6. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    Grimly claustrophobic movies can make viewers put up a shield, yet Tim Blake Nelson (who directed O) invests this unusual Holocaust drama with dramatic intensity that in no way cheapens its subject matter.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Should be seen: It's a worthy ordeal, with flaws that, ironically, make grist for later arguments.
  8. 70
    It's grim stuff indeed, but somehow the horror never quite overwhelms Nelson's sure-footed approach to raising all manner of frankly unanswerable questions -- in particular, what would or could one have done in such circumstances?
  9. 70
    The atmosphere makes a deeper impression than the drama, which might represent a failing on Nelson's part, but could it be avoided? His film portrays the pinholes of light in a place of otherwise unrelenting darkness.
  10. There are better holocaust dramas than Grey Zone -- "Schindler's List" for one, and due later this year, Roman Polanski's magnificent "The Pianist." But few will disturb you like The Grey Zone -- mostly because it won't try for tears.
  11. It's an intelligent, chilling movie, but one that can't quite shake those stage origins.
  12. I would like to be able to report that Nelson's directorial vision is grim and uncompromising. Grim it most surely is. But his movie about morally compromised figures leaves viewers feeling compromised, unable to find their way out of the fog and the ashes.
  13. When the larger question cannot be answered, the lesser one -- "What would you have done?" -- seems beside the point.
  14. With all its flaws, though, The Grey Zone deserves to be respected, and to be seen.
  15. 60
    Jagged, unrelenting, claustrophobically intimate.
  16. Led me to second thoughts about whether the feel-good tactics of "Schindler's List" were any worse than the feel-bad tactics on display here.
  17. 58
    The dialogue is clipped and theatrical, and, aside from Harvey Keitel's German officer, accents are abandoned, which may distract viewers. For me it worked fine.
  18. 50
    It plunges so deep, in fact, that the film winds up bordering on the unwatchable.
  19. 50
    No light leavens the ashen wash of writer-director Tim Blake Nelson's relentlessly downbeat Holocaust drama The Grey Zone. None.
  20. Nelson's work is relentless, grueling and courageous. He makes a large blunder in having American actors (David Arquette, Steve Buscemi) play Hungarian Jews with American accents, while Harvey Keitel plays a Nazi officer with a German accent.
  21. The movie's storyline is not always perfectly clear, seemingly falling into the same murky “grey zone” as everything else.
  22. Nelson has directed his actors--including David Arquette, Steve Buscemi and Daniel Benzali (no, this isn't a joke)--to speak in David Mamet-like cadence, all short, choppy sentences and staccato rhythms. It's a terrible mistake.
  23. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Staccato, Mamet-style dialogue exchanges, breathless pacing and remarkably healthy, well-fed-looking actors create a cumulative sense of artificiality that seriously undercuts the devastating effect clearly being sought.
  24. Nelson certainly passes muster for sincerity but, unfortunately, his movie doesn't have the same clear-cut quality.
  25. 40
    "No poetry after Auschwitz," Theodor Adorno proclaimed. One sometimes wishes he'd added, "And no big-name cinema either."
  26. It isn't just that there's something unsettling about a film that aestheticizes a crematorium; it's that there's something trivializing about the very effort.
  27. Certainly an honorable film. But honorable is not always watchable.

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