Is All This Worth It?: Our Review of ‘June Zero’

Posted in Theatrical by - July 05, 2024
Is All This Worth It?: Our Review of ‘June Zero’

Adolf Eichmann (Alon Margalit) is spending 1962 in an Israeli prison and yet viewers barely see that justice inflicted. Jake Paltrow’s June Zero is tangentially about Eichmann and instead is about the colonisers and Sephardic Jewish people around him. One of those Sephardic Jewish people is young David Saada (Noam Ovadia), who uses his bilingual skills as, um, a child worker. Another is Haim Amzaleg (Yoav Levi), another Sephardic Jewish man, sweating buckets while he’s guarding Eichmann in a corrections facility. The last is Micha Aaronson (Tom Hagi), deciding whether or not he can let Americans use his concentration camp story. All of these stories come together and are mostly successful at it.

The fact that some critics and I have to explain who Eichmann was may be one of this film’s interesting points. As blunt as this is going to read, Eichmann is a stranger to history. And similarly, Hitler is also becoming a stranger to history. If anything, the former was a phantom when he was alive, which is something the Terrorist State have ambivalent thoughts about. There are characters like Micha who know Eichmann all too well. He’s trying to keep the memory of his painful atrocities. The other two protagonists of June Zero’s vignettes know him in passing, like David, to the ire of his racist ass teacher. The same goes for Haim, who gets the designation of guarding Eichmann because he ‘doesn’t have baggage’.

David, Haim, and Micha are archetypes with some flesh, and viewers can thank those behind June Zero. They’re all interesting in their own way. Haim, in particular, is a ball of neuroses and it’s interesting to watch Levi physicalize what his character is feeling. I know this isn’t the point but I’d rather Eichmann as more than a glorified extra to make scenes pop. And because I’m lazy, I’ll talk about Micha who is very much a pseudo artist. He is an artist in a way that he’s monetizing pain, which is something Ada (Joy Rieger) is not into. Ada is a real one, both have valid points, but that doesn’t hide that she’s a ‘voice of sanity’ archetype.

I have a few other major critiques against June Zero in that it does not push its social critiques enough. The film’s penultimate act that puts the first three vignettes together isn’t as interesting as those previous and nuanced parts. Although maybe I’m being too harsh on this act because this is when David falls asleep before, spoiler alert, ‘seeing’ Eichmann. It’s also when he loses his innocence, his dark turn representing the dark things his country ends up doing. And the last act, showing David as an old man, reinforces my interpretation of how the film sees history. I don’t even know what happened to Eichmann, much less the people who claim to witness his final, pathetic days. 

June Zero comes to select Canadian theatres.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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