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“RESISTANCE” Gallantry Under Oppression





Review by John Delia

There have been many historical stories on how the Jews in the WWII era had avoided death and incarceration by the Nazis. But, it’s never enough as the movie Resistance reminds audiences that the atrocities that befell the Jews can be brought to bear again and again with other ethnic groups. In the film we see the plight of Jewish children as they escape from France to Switzerland with the help of the famous mime Marcel Marceau. It’s a heartfelt true story that shows the determination of a few who saved many.

Jesse Eisenberg as “Marcel” in Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

It’s November of 1938 in Strasbourg, France where we find Marcel (Jesse Eisenberg) performing in front of an audience. His type of humor is very different than the crowd has ever seen and they react to it in kind. In the shadows at the back of the audience his father Charles Mangel (Karl Markovics) watches his son without expression. When Marcel leaves the nightclub his father, who owns a meat market, is waiting to tell him that he is a butcher, not an actor. It’s something that Marcel will never forget, but it also lets him know that he has to work harder at his craft to be able to be on his own.

Jesse Eisenberg as “Marcel” in Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

His brother Georges (Geza Rohrig) is in league with a group of resistance fighters who have banded together due to the possible invasion of France growing further south to their city. It’s not too long after, that Marcel joins his brother as the Germans start to close in on Strasbourg, taking it over and terrorizing the Jewish population. On this day 123 Jewish children are brought to the city in compliance with a deal made by the French Vichy regime and German hierarchy. With this many orphans without homes and the Nazi’s starting to take control under Nazi Gestapo SS Officer Klaus Barbie (Matthias Schweighofer), a plan is set up by the resistance to get the children to Switzerland.

Jesse Eisenberg as “Marcel” in Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

Director Jonathan Jakubowicz goes on from there showering Marcel’s involvement with the resistance, his relationship with Emma (played by Clemence Poesy) the brutality of SS Officer Klaus Barbie, and the culmination of one of the most difficult journeys ever undertaken. The film has three levels; the beginning with the introduction of Marcel Marceau and his desire to be an actor, the movement of the resistance against the Gestapo, and the trip to freedom with over a hundred Jewish children. It was a great undertaking by Jakubowicz, but with his leadership it’s an outstanding one. Like a lot of his predecessors that attempted to show the saving of the Jewish children in film, this one is equally as good.

The performance by Jesse Eisenberg as the “King of the Mimes” is spot on, showing that no matter what language is spoken in your world, the comedy of motion and expression comes through. As Marcel Marceau the fighter, his tactics as part of the resistance helps to save many lives. Even when the chances are high that he will get caught and killed, he still presses on to save his fellow freedom fighters, hundreds of children and yet still elude his captures.

Resistance has been rated R by the MPAA for some violence. However, the film also includes acts of peril, a brutal scene of a killing, victimization of Jews, and offensive derogatory language.

FINAL ANALYSIS: the film is very good for those who are unaware of the plight of the children and the freedom fighters. (4 out of 5 Stars)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Edgar Ramirez, Clémence Poésy, Karl Markovics, Matthias Schweighöfer, Bella Ramsey
Directed and written by: Jonathan Jakubowicz
Genre: Biography, History, Drama
MPAA Rating: R for some violence. There’s also some brutality, victimization and offensive language
Running Time: 2 hrs.
Opening Date: March 27, 2020
Distributed by: IFC Films
Released in: Select Theaters, Digital Platforms, Cable VOD

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