Rafael "Parker!!" Jovine’s review published on Letterboxd:
Ok, Director Tim Blake Nelson, I see you. Now when you are taking your small redneck looking face and odd vibe behind the camera again?
But seriously, guys, it is equally fascinating and disturbing to discover new horrors and fucked up things done on concentration camps. No matter if it's a kind of hope-filled tale at the end like "Schlinder List" or the many awful tales about the experiments and the way the Jewish people were treated. This is something that is constantly exploited, and new foundings ensure that it will keep happening for years to come as we unravel the evil encased in something as small as the human's mind. Hate seems to have an almost limitless extension and for one single "good" thing we do as humans, we are capable of doing up to ten times as much evil to our neighbor.
The film is based on the life account of a Hungarian prisoner in Auschwitz about a group of people known as the Sonderkommando who helped the Nazi guards to shepherd their victims to the gas chamber and then dispose of them in the ovens. Just as bleak and traumatic as it sounds, Tim Blake Nelson does not attempt to embellish these events. Rather, he portrays them as the horrible, traumatic and morally bankrupt events they were. Although there are some instances of deep sadness and emotional roller coasting in the film, everything is shot with a sense of realism, capturing the soullessness and almost mechanized approach the soldiers took to their jobs, where they shot and killed people with the same ease they would brush their teeth or take a piss. I can see people simply not being able to watch this all the way through.
Arquette's almost naive persona, which he had developed by that point, is put to great use in this film, where he's almost the wide-eyed child who holds by a thread to some form of hope while all around him is hopelessness. In their portrayals of real-life officers Josef Mengele and Otto Moll, Henry Stram and Velizar Binev convey the sadistic and lifeless personalities you'd expect from people who committed the crimes they were punished for. Keitel does an excellent job of depicting the almost beaucratic and selfish personality of this other true criminal who tortured the protagonists and everyone else in the movie.
All in all, for those with an interest in evil and the stomach to watch the darkest side of human nature, this is one I would highly recommend.
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