Captivated by story about what it is to be human, and speechless before the sight of the Holocaust suffering
The movie is a strong audio-visual and emotional representation of what it was supposed to be like living in a concentration camp during the Holocaust. The senses are bombarded with loud sounds, screams, scenes flash before us, ghastly scenes of pain, suffering, hatred, inhumanity. Saul appears from within that stress of constant nerve-wrecking pressure, death and sorrow, as a flower blooming on a deserted field, with his obsession to fulfil an obligation, a mitzva. Suddenly the entire life that until then seemed so pitiful, impossible and desolate, that was run according to the strict rules and punishments of others, now has a purpose.
The acting is amazing, that gaze of the eyes of the actor Géza Röhrig playing Saul, the entire expression of all emotions is channeled through those eyes. Those deep dark eyes of his that will haunt me.
The portrayal of the concentration camp is so painfully "true-to-life" that you are on the verge of wanting to leave and run away.
And that is one of the strongest qualities of the movie: on one hand, you are on the edge of the chair with the discomfort of experiencing the concentration camp, yet on the other hand, you are hooked on Saul's obsession and you are cheering inside yourself and praying for the completion of the obligation he has set himself.
I am an amateur in the film industry, a mere fan for over 30 years, but I have rarely been shaken as by this one.
At the end of the screening at the Sarajevo Film Festival, I looked around to see a full-theatre now almost empty, save for a few shell-shocked individuals like me, not surprisingly including Atom Egoyan. Genocide trauma is handed down through generations and our own exploration of the past.