The Grey Zone Reviews
The film is unique from the standpoint that it is told in an almost clinical way, with fast dialogue, quick action, and no real time for pondering. It's almost reminiscent of a Steven Soderbergh film with its heightened sense of realism. This helps to distinguish itself from what some might consider 'misery porn', and forces the viewer to confront the realities of what is unfolding much in the way that the victims themselves had to, where the luxuries of after the fact pondering don't exist. This is bolstered by good overall performances, and crisp direction which keeps the film immersive. The problem, however, is that the film's clinical nature gave way to a sort of emotional disconnect. There is no one to really identify with, and the moments of horror are so fast as to have an almost blunted feel. Thus, the film never fully achieves the resonance that it wants, lacking a real emotional core.
An overall strong, and uniquely conceived film
I'm not sure if I agree with Ebert's assessment that this is "great" though. For one thing, Keitel's accent is offputting. I see why it is there (to separate him linguistically from the Hungarians), but it's still annoying. And there are some odd tonal jumps that did not entirely work for me.
Regardless, it is at least very good, well worth seeing. It is an interesting counterpoint to The Pianist, which was released in the same year (2002) in the US.
I felt so bad after visiting the Auschwitz concentration camp. :(