The Grey Zone

Rated 3.0 Writer and director Tim Blake Nelson, adapting his own play (which was adapted, in turn, from the memoir by Dr. Miklos Nyiszli), tells of the Sonderkommando: Jewish inmates at Auschwitz who bought a few precious months of life first by herding their fellow prisoners into the gas chamber and then by shoveling their corpses into the ovens. Nelson’s dialogue sounds colloquially American and betrays its stage origin (he has a bad case of David Mamet-itis). That, added to the well-fed look of many of the inmates, works against the strong acting and the inherent power of the Holocaust theme. Nelson’s title refers to the moral ambiguity—not black or white, but “grey”—of his characters’ positions, but he never really explains exactly what is morally ambiguous about working for the Nazi death machine.