Sjoe – Son of Saul Tugs at Everything

The Son of Saul (Saul Fia) by first time director László Nemes is hard. Very hard. It’s a deep topic. A holocaust drama. A difficult topic. A challenging and well filmed film. But it’s also predictable.

Film Still

And very, very slow. And sometimes not quite clear.

Guaranteed to do well because it tackles a difficult subjects rather than because it tackles it well. On a very superficial level – I wished the protagonist had been played by a more engaging actor. It was hard for me to connect with this man…but perhaps that was the intention.

I’ve struggled to write about this film and left my review for a few days because it sat so heavily in my heart.

It felt like the audience in Cannes received it well and respected it for its attempt – possibly successful attempt – to depict the horrors that were the Second World War. Nazi Germany.

It covers all the main moral dilemmas – love, family, loyalty. And it leaves you feeling heavy. Wishing that the world wasn’t heading straight for another atrocity like that.

There are two scenes that make you realise the truth of the horror. One reveals the Jewish people, forced to stip down to nothing. Bare naked people. And the camera zooms in fairly close to show their warts and all. Their sagging bottoms, their rolling stomachs. And then just as you have a shallow thought about this person’s body – soldiers push them – into a huge dugout hole. Just one naked body after the next, rolling on top of each other. To die.

This would not be a date night flick! But it would be a conversation starter. And a reason to love thy neighbour and make this a better world.

It’s weird how Cannes does this to us – shuttles us from one kind of movie to another – so in one instant you’re wanting to party the night away, and in another you’re feeling almost suicidal!