Barry Levinson's biographical drama The Survivor which stars Ben Foster as boxer Harry Haft had its world premiere at TIFF – Toronto International Film Festival 2021, and the critics praise the storytelling, directing and acting.
When the Nazis invade Poland, Harry Haft (Ben Foster), who is Jewish, is sent to the Auschwitz extermination camp. He is a powerfully built man, so a charming but sadistic officer (Billy Magnussen) offers him an impossible deal: fight fellow prisoners in the boxing ring for the amusement of his captors, or die. The winner of the bout survives to fight again. The loser is shot or sent to the gas chamber. How far will Harry’s will to live take him? What will he do to escape the death all around him?
The film stars Ben Foster, Vicky Krieps, Billy Magnussen, Peter Sarsgaard, Dar Zuzovsky, John Leguizamo, Danny DeVito, Saro Emirze and is directed by Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Good Morning, Vietnam, Sleepers, Wag the Dog).
Here are some reviews:
“It’s a haunted and haunting performance at the center of the most substantial movie that Levinson has made in years. Ben Foster’s transformation in Barry Levinson’s The Survivor, is something different — because he morphs into Holocaust survivor Harry Haft from two different directions in the same film.” (Steve Pond, The Wrap).
“A true story so unique it really becomes its own powerful tale of a man trying to survive the haunting memory of war experiences well beyond the war itself. Haft’s story will move audiences and is worth telling.” (Pete Hammond, Deadline).
“The best film the director has made for cinemas in the nearly quarter-century since Wag the Dog. Delivers enough emotional resolution to satisfy mainstream audiences.” (John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter).
“One can’t deny the empathy Levinson brings to the material, connecting Haft’s odyssey to those of other Jewish characters he has chronicled in earlier films. Audiences will be courted on the strength of Foster’s typically uncompromising, emotionally nuanced work.” (Tim Grierson, Screen Daily).
Foto: TIFF 2021.