(director/writer: Jonathan Glazer; screenwriter: novel by Martin Amis; cinematographer: Lukasz Zal; editor: Paul Watts; music: Mica Levi; cast: Sandra Huller (Hedwig), Christian Friedel (Rudolf Höss), Max Beck (Schwarzer), Wolfgang Lampl (Hans Burger), Lilli Falk (Heidetrauf); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jim Wilson/Ewa Puszczynska; A24; 2023-UK/USA/Poland-in German, Polish and English, with English subtitles)

“It’s a remarkable film that connects with the horror of the Holocaust in a way that’s chilling and profound.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An original Holocaust drama, differing in tone and style from the other thousand or so Holocaust genre films, as it forces us to look at how mundane the brutality was and how accepted it was by the unenlightened Germans, and does so by not showing us the misery in the camps but how well the Nazi commandant lived outside the camp in pastoral surroundings. It’s a fictionalized version of the Auschwitz commandant and family.

The film was adapted from the 2014 novel by Martin Amis, who passed away just before the film was released.

English director Jonathan Glazer (“Under The Skin”/”Birth”) films it in German, on location in Poland.

It’s a remarkable film that connects with the horror of the Holocaust in a way that’s chilling and profound.

The insensitive commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), and his wife Hedwig (Sandra Huller), strive to build a dream life for their family in a house and garden next to the camp. Rudolph prides himself in his efficiency to keep the gas chambers running, while his wife makes their life on the killing grounds a pleasant place to raise a family (never mind the screams from inside the concentration camp!).

The lady of the camp meets on mornings with her German lady friends, the wives of the camp guards, for coffee and cake and gossip, and dwells in the house of the Polish woman she has taken over, using and abusing her as an unpaid slave to do the house chores.

These two Nazis are monsters, not caring about their barbaric role in the genocide. It’s monstrous watching them seem so self-satisfied and happy while their Jewish inmates are suffering so much from these pigs who are living off Hitler’s madness and his war machine.

The only conflict the couple has is when Rudolph is told by his bosses that he’s being transferred to the head office, near Berlin, a move that his bosses refuse to alter despite his protests, until they decide to keep him at the camp because he proves to be more efficient at the job than his replacement.

It played at the Cannes Film Festival.