A shallow depth of field results in sharp focus on events in the immediate foreground. A limited palette of browns, sepias and greys; only German and Hungarian subtitled; events taking place at night or seen in low light (candlelight, subterranean sleeping quarters). Debut director Laszlo Nemes has produced a viscid, claustrophobic confusion and a harrowing loss of place.
Set in a German death camp, Son of Saul is quite simply horrific as much by its (dimly seen but definitely heard) suggestion as the known inhumanity of the Holocaust.
But in his single mindedness in finding a rabbi for a dead child, Saul (a phenomenal Geza Rohrig, a man barely off screen for the entire 107 minute running time) puts others at risk. And it’s this unreflective determination that ultimately unravels the emotional impact of Son of Saul, the recipient of the 2016 Oscar for best foreign language film.