The Zone of Interest

Rudolf Höss enjoys a cigarette after dinner

The Zone of Interest is a film set in the house that’s right next door to Auschwitz, so it has a mountain to climb. Which is this – against the brute fact of exterminating people en masse, pictorial representation of the same is always going to look a bit kitsch. Jonathan Glazer, who directs and reworks Martin Amis’s novel, aims to get round the problem by simply not showing the grim goings-on next door. Instead he focuses exclusively on the life that camp commandant Rudolf Höss (not to be confused with Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess) lived with his wife, Hedwig, and children. What a picture Glazer paints, of life in this prim, neat, … Read more


Joseph and Anna in a happy moment

Birth doesn’t quite sit with Jonathan Glazer’s other films. As I write (February 2024), his latest, The Zone of Interest, is attracting awards like an MRI scanner attracts spoons. As did Glazer’s debut, Sexy Beast, in 2000, and the film that followed Birth, 2013’s Under the Skin. As for Birth, it was booed at its premiere at the Venice Film Festival and its current rating on Rotten Tomatoes puts it around 40% “fresh”. Rotten, in other words. People probably need to take another look. First thing: it’s brilliantly made. Second thing: it’s brilliantly acted, with a great cast all rising to the challenge. Third thing: the plot. This is where it does come … Read more

Sexy Beast

Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast

A simple story from first-time feature director Jonathan Glazer – an advertising hotshot who directed the famous Guinness “surfing horses” advert . It’s all about a retired tealeaf (make sure your dictionary of rhyming slang is beside you) being forced into one last job back in Blighty (as Brits of a certain vintage mock-affectionately call the UK). And right from its opening moments, featuring a glistening Ray Winstone in ludicrous yellow trunks flat out beside a Spanish swimming pool, Sexy Beast feels like a slice of your actual quality. The film is deliciously short but the pacing is so luxuriously slow and self-confident that initial groans – Oh God, not more Brit gangsters … Read more