Son of Saul (2016)

Saul Focus

Director: László Nemes
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Starring: Géza Röhrig, Levente Molnár, Urs Rechn, Sándor Zsótér

A prisoner of Auschwitz, Saul Ausländer works as a Sonderkommando at one of the crematoriums. His duties include salvaging valuables from the clothing of the dead, dragging their bodies from the gas chambers, and immediately scrubbing the floors afterwards.  During one session of moving bodies (horrifically referred to as "pieces"), Saul comes across a young boy, whom he takes to be his illegitimate son. Aware that his life could end at any moment, Saul's sole focus becomes delivering a proper burial for his boy, with a genuine rabbi present, putting said act above the value of living.

Director László Nemes uniquely chooses to have the camera mirror the story, as both are focused upon our titular lead, working while the atrocities occur all around him. Glimpses are caught of these horrific moments, or the sound design is utilized to hear the acts taking place off-camera, both proving effective in delivering horrific realities about the occurrences at Auschwitz, while not directly seeing so much. While this is all happening, one bears witness to Saul's face, his expression unchanged due to being so used to these horrors. Géza Röhrig perfectly conveys how these chilling realities are an everyday occurrence to him, which proves to be a horrifying idea, particularly when compounded by the sounds of screams, and the ghastly acts which take place.

A harrowing picture that's astoundingly brought to life, a tough watch, and all the more impressive for being a directorial debut. Son of Saul is a film one won't forget about in a hurry, and one I urge all to watch.