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The Grey Zone

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Grey Zone

Starring: David Arquette, Steve Buscemi
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genre: Drama

*Also starring: Daniel Benzali, Harvey Keitel, Mira Sorvino, Natasha Lyonne, David Chandler, Allan Corduner, Michael Stuhlbarg, Lisa Benavides

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

THE GREY ZONE, written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, tells a horrific true story set in a Nazi concentration camp. Its impressive images of crematorium chimney fires and stacks of dead bodies are undermined by the movie's presentation, which is way too stagy. The movie's staccato dialog might work in the theater -- Nelson based the script on his play -- but on the screen the acting becomes showy and not quite convincing. Only when the characters shut up and camera pulls back to let us witness the horror of the situation does the movie adequately reach its intended emotional impact.

The frequently confusing story concerns Jewish workers at the camp who are planning an uprising. Too much of the dialog is wasted on petty squabbles among Jews of various nationalities as they argue about when to revolt and what should be their goals -- destruction of the facility, escape or both.

The uniformly strong casting includes David Arquette, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Keitel, Natasha Lyonne and Mira Sorvino. But the real star is cinematographer Russell Lee Fine who chillingly captures the feel of the death camps. It's too bad that the script never lives up to the visuals.

THE GREY ZONE runs 1:48. It is rated R for "strong holocaust violence, nudity and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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