Even after two viewings, Son of Saul is a difficult film to tackle. It is an overwhelming cinematic experience—emotionally charged, as Holocaust films typically are, but also formally striking. It is easy to get wrapped up in a film’s aesthetic approach, particularly when the vision is as idiosyncratic as that of Hungarian director László Nemes. But what stands out in this case is the functionality of Nemes’ technique. The mobile, handheld camera and shallow focus close-ups that account for the bulk of the 35mm academy ratio compositions always serve the narrative.
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