Marek Polsky only miraculously survived the Holocaust. His family was not so lucky. Lonely, sullen and unhappy, he lives alone somewhere in Colombia, watering his one precious memento of the past, a black rose bush, when an old German moves into the house next door and says that the land on which the flower grows belongs to him. In addition, he is nervous, left-handed and likes to paint. Is it possible? Is it really… Hitler? Here is the review of My Neighbor Adolf (2022).
When I was in my teens, I came across a conspiracy theory popular at the time, according to which Hitler faked his death and fled to Argentina. Stupid newspapers could even publish pictures of the said Adolf the farmer in old age, in fact only stupid photomontages, but when a person was young (or vice versa, already quite advanced in age), it was easy to hit him in the bottle, so I myself was looking for the shape of the nose and the look of the Fuhrer’s similarities … These rumors, of course, did not come from the sky. Stories of how “person A” is actually still alive, just faded into the shadows that was the tune of the 20th and early 20th century – Elvis, Hitler, Bin Laden, sort of Walt Disney – and those are just the most popular ones who come themselves to the head. Nay, in 1960, in Argentina, Adolf Eichmann, one of the architects of the Holocaust, was found, which became the basis for the existence of these later theories, and it is from this fact that the entire plot of today’s film comes from.
My Neighbor Adolf (2022) – film review [Monolith]. Two grumpy old menA few-minute introduction, set in pre-war Poland, is a neat microcosm of the entire film. He very efficiently introduces us to the main character – Marek is a Polish Jew, impatient, but at the same time a brilliant chess player and loves his family. In the same few minutes, the director, Leon Prudovsky, presents the viewers with the aforementioned black rose bush and explains its meaning for the main character. All this in a very natural, concise and effective way. On the other hand, the whole thing ends with a joke so old, so hackneyed, used a million times already, that it’s impossible not to roll your eyes slightly when you see where the scene is going. And that’s how the whole film is – on the one hand, well thought-out, sparing in expression, and still saying everything that’s important, on the other hand, it’s clichéd and undercooked. In a word: uneven.
The rest of the picture takes place entirely in 1960, in Colombia. At first the atmosphere is a typical neighborhood war, but it quickly evolves into something along the lines of Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Mr. Polsky (David Hayman) sets up his makeshift spy gear in a window and begins to look for similarities between his neighbor, Mr. Herzog (Udo Kier), and the leader of the Third Reich. Over time, their relationship begins to evolve due to their shared love for chess, but all the time, practically until the end of the film, this unspoken question hangs over the heroes. Ultimately, the writers are kind enough to give us an answer, but I admit I wasn’t overly satisfied with it.
My Neighbor Adolf (2022) – film review [Monolith]. Weird jokes and a depressing landscape
The humor in the film tends to veer towards subtle smirks rather than uncontrollable cackle. Sometimes it’s because the jokes are appropriately tailored and harmonize with the otherwise serious background of events, but just as often (perhaps even more often) they are just strangely childish and unambitious. Scenes like throwing dog poop on the neighbor’s property or an unsuccessful attempt to piss on the car are not gags that will make the viewer laugh to tears (well, maybe my mother, but she’s not very picky).
I don’t know how the filmmakers managed to paint the Colombia of the 1960s with such gray, sad colors. Theoretically, Polsky’s and Herzog’s houses are situated in a beautiful mountainous area with a lot of greenery around them, but both buildings are so dirty, gray and neglected that one can get depressed during a screening – and this is an advantage, because too cheerful a picture would be at odds with the content. Our main character is depressed, has an unresolved trauma (rather in the plural), is lonely and has no joy in life anymore. The gray palette of colors, although tiring for the viewer who wants to laugh, is the most appropriate here. Minus those pastiche moments.
Both Hayman and Kier are veteran actors with a presence so strong that even trivialities such as washing up or playing chess are riveting. Apart from them, there are literally a handful of actors in the film, but with the slight exception of Olivia Silhava as Frau Kaltenbrunner, they all die, overwhelmed by the main duo’s charisma (and the fact that the script doesn’t give them much to do). It is almost a play written for two actors, but just as it is not lacking in artistic flair, beautifully sad cinematography, above-average performances, accurate metaphors and parallels, as a finished work, “My Neighbor Adolf” is a film strangely incoherent, as if aimless – not funny enough for comedy, too shallow for drama. You can take a look out of curiosity, the screening is not boring, but I wouldn’t drop everything just to catch it in the cinema (which is not so easy at all – I had to check in several cinemas before I found one screening somewhere). Adolf has waited so many years, he can wait a while longer.
Here are some key points from the 2022 movie My Neighbor Adolf:
- The movie is set in Brazil and follows a Holocaust survivor named Zelig (David Hayman) who becomes convinced that his new neighbor, Adolf (Udo Kier), is actually Adolf Hitler.
- Zelig becomes obsessed with proving his theory, and he begins to follow Adolf around, spying on him and collecting evidence.
- As Zelig gets closer to Adolf, he begins to question his own sanity. Is Adolf really Hitler, or is Zelig simply going crazy?
- The movie explores themes of memory, identity, and the nature of evil.
Here are some additional thoughts on the movie:
- My Neighbor Adolf is a darkly comedic and thought-provoking film.
- The performances by Hayman and Kier are excellent.
- The movie is well-directed and well-written.
- My Neighbor Adolf is a must-see for fans of dark comedy and Holocaust films.
Here are some reviews of the movie:
- “A darkly comic and thought-provoking film that explores themes of memory, identity, and the nature of evil.” – The Hollywood Reporter
- “Excellent performances by Hayman and Kier elevate this darkly comedic film.” – Variety
- “A must-see for fans of dark comedy and Holocaust films.” – The New York Times
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