The Zone of Interest Movie Review: Jonathan Glazer Depicts Complacency and Evil to Astonishing Results

Review: The Zone of Interest both washes over you and punches you right in the stomach – a combination few filmmakers can pull off as effortlessly as Jonathan Glazer does here. Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller co-star in a beguiling portrait of the hatred and terror that seeps through the world.

the zone of interest review jonathan glazer film 2023
The Zone of Interest (2023) from Jonathan Glazer

The Zone of Interest is one of the most beguiling, upsetting, and finely constructed movies I saw in all of 2023. I’ve admired Jonathan Glazer’s work in the past, but I didn’t know that he had this in him. It’s much more reserved and quiet than even Under the Skin – a movie that had to sink into you and get “under your skin” in its own right. This is almost structureless and purposefully unengaging. The violence and despair never shows onscreen in a way you’d expect for a movie about The Holocaust and focused on those in charge of inflicting such atrocities.

It’s shot “Big Brother” style with single camera shots as if you’re peering into a world you shouldn’t be. Glazer has always had such a distinct worldview and set of sensibilities, but he’s so good at getting out of his own way. A24‘s The Zone of Interest stays fixated on the characters and grueling storyline. It never becomes about Jonathan Glazer and his ability to direct a film. The movie both washes over you and punches you right in the stomach – a combination few filmmakers can pull off as sincerely as Glazer does here.

And the plot is a bit too freeform to pin down. It’s ultimately about the family of a general in high ranking within those responsible for keeping the Auschwitz concentration camps going. It’s presented as a quiet family drama, one with the occasional disputes at home and seemingly normal day-to-day conflicts that families endure regularly – but oh by the way these people are responsible for terrible, terrible tragedy at an immense level.

Latest Reviews from Cinephile Corner

Jonathan Glazer presents these characters not as the stand-ins for pure evil, rather those complacent in atrocities of large-scale magnitude. And if this doesn’t sound like the most prescient way to depict complacency through a historical lens, Glazer goes as far as to break the fourth wall towards the end of the third act, putting the events of The Zone of Interest in modern context in a similar fashion to Martin Scorsese’s in Killers of the Flower Moon this year. They can only make sense of their stories through their own experiences and beliefs, and in both cases, they’re palpable and timely in a way few films aspire to.

Christian Friedel and Sandra Hüller star in The Zone of Interest, offering two different angles on the smaller roles people played in the ongoing Nazi regime. Friedel is more outwardly antisemitic as the commandant of Auschwitz. His wife, played by Hüller, spends her time across the wall trying to build her home into the perfect sanctuary, where their kids can live the best life possible and they can find peace in the world they constantly inflict pain on.

I’m a bit surprised at the overwhelming admiration and Oscar-worthy buzz Glazer’s latest was able to achieve. It’s unusually abstract for a film nominated for Academy Awards, but I’m excited for Glazer to finally earn that recognition he deserves. I’m not sure it tops the list of the movies he’s directed (alongside Under the Skin is Sexy Beast and Birth), but I’d also imagine that The Zone of Interest will only get better with repeat viewings. Another very strong outing from the European director.

Best New Movie

Genre: Drama, History

See The Zone of Interest in theaters

Join our newsletter

The Zone of Interest Cast and Credits

the zone of interest movie 2023


Christian Friedel as Rudolf Höss

Sandra Hüller as Hedwig Höss

Ralph Herforth as Oswald Pohl

Daniel Holzberg as Gerhard Maurer

Sascha Maaz as Arthur Liebehenschel


Director: Jonathan Glazer

Writer: Jonathan Glazer, Martin Amis (Original Writer)

Cinematography: Łukasz Żal

Editor: Paul Watts

Composer: Mica Levi

More Reviews for Movies like The Zone of Interest (2023)