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

Anatomy of a Fall

Sandra and her lawyer

Following on from the brilliant Sybil, Justine Triet double-taps it with Anatomy of a Fall, another rangy drama with rare psychological depth. Written expressly for Sandra Hüller by Triet and her partner Arthur Harari – and you only hope that it doesn’t reflect their own relationship – it’s the old “did he fall or was he pushed story” spun out at tantalising length. Did Sandra (Hüller’s character’s name too) push her husband to his death off the balcony of their swish chalet in the French Alps or was she asleep at the time, oblivious to everything with ear plugs in, as she claims? We follow Sandra from the film’s opening moments to the … Read more

I’m Your Man

Dan Stevens and Maren Eggert dance

Imagine that, a film called I’m Your Man and no sign of Leonard Cohen on the soundtrack. Or Wham! Partly that’s because this is a German film (originally called Ich bin dein Mensch) but mostly it’s because this funny and clever movie wants to do things its own way. How about a romcom plot involving C-3PO, for instance, to put it in elevator-pitch terms. Of course that’s not who Dan Stevens is playing but there’s more than a hint of the prissy Star Wars robot in Stevens’s portrayal of an AI-juiced man-machine designed expressly to be everything Alma, a university researcher, could want in a partner. As for Alma (Maren Eggert), she’s signed … Read more


Sibyl in clingy sexy black dress

Billed as a drama, Sibyl is in fact a tragic comedy, a brilliantly dry and pitiless one, Kafkaesque in its analysis of a person in self denial and also Kafkaesque in being almost opaque until that “ah-haa!” moment comes along. Director and co-writer Justine Triet, a fan of Hitchcock and Polanski, dives right in. Even before the opening credits we’ve met Sibyl, a shrink and former novelist who now wants to get back in the writing game. “Don’t do it,” boiled down, is the advice she gets from an old editor friend. But Sibyl does it anyway. Sibyl (Virginie Efira) is also a recovering alcoholic who really shouldn’t have another drink, and certainly … Read more


Sandra Hüller as Michaela in Requiem

Since Run Lola Run, the Germans have kept up a respectable hitrate when it comes to films that use elements of the thriller to deliver drive – Head-On, The Edukators, Downfall, Sophie Scholl, The Lives of Others. Requiem continues the trend, the thriller element in this case being the jeopardy of its central character, a young woman we identify with entirely (old Hitchcock trick), a student who is plagued with voices in her head. But instead of getting psychiatric help, she is cast into the hands of a priest convinced she is possessed. Two things immediately make this film stand out from the pack – the performance by the remarkable Sandra Hüller as the … Read more