This is a challenging and troubling film that asks a lot of the viewer, before sending them away with a great deal to consider. There won’t be many films this year that you’ll turn over more thoroughly in the hours, days, and weeks that follow.
It’s a remarkable film — chilling and profound, meditative and immersive, a movie that holds human darkness up to the light and examines it as if under a microscope. In a sense, it’s a movie that plays off our voyeurism, our curiosity to see the unseeable. Yet it does so with a bracing originality.
The Zone of Interest insists that all of history’s most abominable moments have been permitted by people who didn’t have to see them, and while the film’s ultimate staying power has yet to be determined, its vision of normality is — as Hannah Arendt once described that phenomenon — “more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”
The soundtrack of the Hösses’ daily lives is a reminder of the nightmare taking place just beyond the wall outside their home, and these sounds, relentless in their sense of evocativeness, give an extra layer of the uncanny to Höss’s already unsettling character.