THE ZONE OF INTEREST | United Kingdom, Poland, USA | 2023 | 106m | German, Polish
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer
Master of portraiture Jonathan Glazer (Under the Skin, TIFF ’13) was awarded the Grand Prix at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for The Zone of Interest, adapted from a 2014 novel of the same title by Martin Amis. The film centres on the domestic life of Hedwig (Sandra Hüller, also at the Festival in Anatomy of a Fall) and Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), beneficiaries of lebensraum, whose family home — nestled between train tracks and gas chambers — is spitting distance from Auschwitz, the infamous German concentration camp located in occupied Poland, where Rudolf serves as commandant.
Towards the final days of the Holocaust, Hedwig is fixated on self-preservation, while Rudolf is increasingly burdened by his duties. We reside inside the family’s encampment, with background voices of ghost-like prisoners muffled by the perpetrator’s quotidian musings. At one point, Hedwig and her atrocious friends joke about their new luxury goods, received from Canada — the nickname of the storage facilities where such items, after being confiscated, were stored — at the demise of their former neighbours.
TIFF REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
RATING 4 out of 5
Gran Turismo races into the end of the summer movie season with a truly crowd pleasing experience, full of excellently executed race sequences with cinematography and sound design that puts you in the driver’s seat, allowing director Neill Blomkamp to deliver the last surprise hit of the summer!
True story sports films are always enjoyable to watch, with their universal story of the underdog’s struggle to achieve their dreams. Even though it’s a story arc that has been done countless times, it is always an inspiring experience that is easy to get swept up in. In recent years, we have been treated to excellent racing films with Ron Howard’s Rush and James Mangold’s Ford v Ferrari (which remains one of my all time favourite sports films), and director Neill Blomkamp has delivered the next hit for the racing genre. While it shares the name of the popular Playstation video game franchise, this is not a video game adaptation but a heart pounding sports drama that pays homage to the games while creating a film that will have audiences cheering in their seats.
Jann Mardenborough dreams of being a professional race car driver, having spent thousands of hours racing on Gran Turismo, making him one of the best players in the world. When Nissan holds a contest, inviting the game’s best players to train to become a professional driver for Team Nissan, Jann begins the journey of a lifetime to pursue his dream at all costs with the aid of an ex-racer as his trainer and a marketing executive, both determined to make him a professional racer.
The story of Gran Turismo may feel like so many other sports films with its familiar story of the underdog becoming a sports legend, though this does not prevent it from being enjoyable for a second. Sprinkled throughout the story are nods to the Gran Turismo video games, whether it be CGI added to the race sequences to simulate the aesthetics of the video game or the constant reminders that the drivers in the film were trained playing Gran Turismo. It’s got the hallmarks of the sports genre, all building to a thrilling final act with the historic sports moment of the film, but the screenplay never loses track of the human story for a second. Jann Mardenborough’s story and his perseverance of how he became the historic driver he is today is full of heart, making it easy for the audience to connect with his character on an emotional and personal level. You feel his struggle and pain, have your soul lift when he succeeds, and watch anxiously as he chases his dreams over the course of the film, ensuring that audiences are invested in the story. Yes, the screenplay may play fast and loose with the facts at times to create a more dramatic story and it starts off a little rocky in the first act before finding its winning path to the finish line, but the result is a film that audiences are going to fall in love with.