RESISTANCE (2020) – My rating: 8/10

Resistance is a biographical drama written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz and is inspired by the life of Marcel Marceau. The film was very informative and well scripted and well-acted.

The film opens in 1938, just before the start of World War II, in Munich, Nazi Germany. The Nazi Brown Shirts invade the home of a young Jewish girl, Elsbeth (Bella Ramsey), and kills her parents. Resistance continues in Strasbourg, France, near the German border, where Marcel Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg) works unfulfilled in his father’s butcher shop. Marcel’s passion was for the arts,  especially mime and painting. During 1939, when Nazi power consolidates and World War II approaches, Marceau performs a cabaret impression of Charlie Chaplin, using the narrow mustache also favored by Adolf Hitler. Visual similarities between Chaplin and Hitler frequent the film. Marceau’s passion for theatre grows stronger after he discovers his father Charles Mangel (Karl Markovics), is secretly performing opera.  

While Marcel’s cousin, Georges (Géza Röhrig), involves himself with a Jewish arm of the French Resistance, Marcel and Emma (Clémence Poésy) fall in love. Marcel’s father, who had fled Poland years earlier, supports his son and Emma joining the anti-Nazi resistance. It is a decision that defines Marceau’s wartime experiences and brings tragic consequences for Marceau’s father, who was arrested in 1944 and sentenced to the Auschwitz camp.

A Scout troop lead by Emma and Georges rescued 123 Jewish children whose parents were killed by Nazis. Marceau was able to advance his mime skills as he helped entertain the orphans at a nearby castle. He also bonds with Emma when she observed Marcel’s many tender moments with the children.  After Germany invades Poland in the autumn of 1939, their involvement grows deeper into the French Resistance. Adults decide to distribute the Jewish children into smaller groups to minimize their visibility. Some of the children were sent to local churches and others to Jewish families. Marcel and Emma maintain contact with Elsbeth. If you don’t know the story, I will stop here and give you a fair chance to enjoy the movie.

I try to see most Holocaust films because I find them very informative and well scripted and well-directed.  I never knew that Marcel Marceau was involved with the French Resistance and saved hundreds of Jewish children from the likes of Hitler and his band of Neo-Nazis and ruthless Gestapo agents.  Although we all know the bottom line to most of these movies, I feel we need to be made aware of how the Holocaust happened and exactly who assisted in keeping many Jews from slaughter. I feel Resistance could have gone a little further, as it seemed somewhat short despite its two-hour run.  There were many disturbing scenes — makes you wonder if we all really belong to the same human race.  Some of Hitler’s regime testified “Hitler made me do it, I was only following orders”.  I’m glad that explanation didn’t wash.  Resistance is one of the Holocaust films that showed us there were simply monsters in Hitler’s army who enjoyed killing men, women, and children. I highly recommend Resistance, although I wasn’t that impressed with Jessie Eisenberg’s mime performances.  The film gives honor to Marcel’s contribution to the cause. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, IFC released the film on video on demand instead of the theatrical release scheduled. Resistance was tied for the highest-grossing film in America when it debuted in the week of April 17, 2020, grossing $2,490. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 93 reviews, with a weighted average of 5.76/10. The site’s critical consensus reads: “Flawed yet honorable, Resistance pushes past uneven performances and execution to pay sincere tribute to its real-life protagonist.” You can watch Resistance on HBO/MAX — Check It Out!

 

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