This may not be the best film ever made about the Holocaust but it is almost certainly the most surreal.
Based on Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk's 1968 best-seller, Adam Resurrected, it is a kind of post-Holocaust One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest with a little Catch 22 and some magical realism thrown in for good measure.
Jeff Goldblum plays the multi-talented but traumatised camp survivor, Adam Stein, a circus magician who made it through the war by being treated literally like a dog – the personal pet of camp commandant, Willem Defoe – a story which is told in flashback.
Fifteen years later, Stein resides in an Israeli clinic, performing tricks (he has the ability to make himself bleed at will), reading minds, seducing one of the nurses and drinking to excess.
Adam's salvation comes in the form of a fellow inmate, whose childhood trauma has resulted in his behaving like a dog – and Adam takes on the case of the patient that has flummoxed the staff..
Goldblum's inspired performance narrowly fails to rescue the film. While his character has the potential to be memorable, the direction of Paul Schrader is oddly detached, making the experience unsettling rather than moving.The humour is too black to raise a chuckle and the flat ending does not help matters.