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The chilling distance of The Zone of Interest

A still from ‘The Zone of Interest’
Image: A24

During World War II, the Germans designated the area surrounding Auschwitz the “zone of interest.” The dullness of the phrase was intentional, another euphemism as operative as “concentration camp.”

In Jonathan Glazer’s sorta adaptation of Martin Amis’ eponymous novel, this self-delusion is on display. Hedwig Höss (Sandra Hüller) runs a stately home. She raises her children, bosses maids around, and tends to the garden. Their house is on a plot beside Auschwitz. Jews are being slaughtered on the other side of the wall.

Whereas Amis’ novel fictionalized its characters, Glazer centers it on the real-life Rudolf Höss (Christian Friedel), the commandant of the camp and a rising star in the Nazi party. A powerful and frightening early scene…

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