I had my second viewing last night of Laszlo Nemes‘ Son of Saul (Sony Pictures Classics, 12.18). The previous time was in Cannes seven months ago, but it packed the same punch. I noticed an hour ago that Sony Pictures Classics has no teaser or trailer up, and it seems that there should be. Some kind of acknowledgement that a major Holocaust flick is coming down the pike in January that will qualify in December and that, you know, it’s absolutely essential to deal with it.
Shot entirely in close-ups (and occasional medium close-ups), Son of Saul is a Hungarian-made, soul-drilling, boxy-framed art film about an all-but-mute fellow (Geza Rohrig) with a haunted, obliterated expression. This titular-named survivor — a walking dead man, a kind of ghost — toils in an Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp as a Sonderkommando — i.e., prisoners who assisted the Germans in exterminating their fellow inmates in order to buy themselves time.
I’ve noted before that I found Saul devastating. “No day at the beach but one of the most searing and penetrating Holocaust films I’ve ever seen,” I wrote on 5.14.15, “and that’s obviously saying something.”