Auschwitz, Autumn, 1944. Saul Ausländer (Géza Röhrig) is a Hungarian-Jewish prisoner and member of the Sonderkommando, one of the cursed work gangs selected by the Nazi genocide machine to assist in the industrial slaughter of undesirables and perceived enemies of their genocidal regime.
After World War II, Leni Riefenstahl couldn’t escape the Fuhrer’s shadow. Arrested first by American, then French troops, her property and money seized, she endured interrogations about her tires to the regime. Riefenstahl argued she’d been coerced into making propaganda and wasn’t aware of Nazi atrocities. The image stuck: three denazification tribunals acquitted her (one cautiously branding her a “fellow traveler”), and Riefenstahl began the road to rehabilitation.
After a kick-off day with some alright films, variously peddling frivolous contrivance or social awareness rehash, Saul Fia (Son of Saul), the third film in the official competition, finally delivers an overdose of the goosebumps absent so far. An all-too-real horror film for grown-up audiences by first-time director Laszlo Nemes, Saul Fia should at least scoop the Caméra d’Or award for first film and a best actor prize for newcomer Géza Röhrig’s performance.