Imre Kertész won the 2002 Nobel Prize for Literature for his autobiographical novel about the experiences of a teenager surviving life in Auschwitz. At the age of 14 Kertész was deported to the labour camps of Poland; using a fictional character to tell his tale of endurance, the author gives a view of the Holocaust we have not experienced yet.
Gyuri (Nagy) is a teenage Hungarian Jew who is separated from his family and sent to work in the labour camps at the beginning of the Holocaust. Gyuri says goodbye to his father (Bán) and believes that all he will have to do is work hard until they are reunited again. His father knows better, and when they are sent to separate camps, the realisation of what is happening finally sinks in for Gyuri.
The frail youth is taken to the edge of existence, his little frame stretched to breaking point as he strives to stay alive. At times Gyuri almost gives up his fight but with the help of some older inmates he learns to accept the present and what may lie ahead of him. Production on 'Fateless' was closed for several months as the makers waited for funding, and this helped the portrayal of the main character, whose physical transformation from pre-pubescent to adolescent is wholly convincing. Nagy delivers a mature, sensitive and deeply emotional performance as Gyuri.
Shot with a haunting, ghost-like quality, director Lajos Koltai's film exposes the concentration camp and the despair within. Using Kertész's script he delivers an intimate and personal story of a young man's struggle. With muted colours of grey and blue, we experience the cold and harsh world of the labour camp; though this is elevated slightly with Ennio Morricone's beautiful score complementing Koltai's vision.
A subject that has been covered many times previously, Koltai's use of a teenager brings a fresh insight into a man who is no longer a boy, and a boy who may never become man. A solid, moving film that suffers slightly from its own beauty.