Resistance Review – Excellent Direction, Four Star Performances, Brilliant

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Resistance, from Ingenious Media and IFC Films, presents the story of Marcel Marceau, the most famous mime, who joined the French resistance to fight against Nazi's occupation, and ended up helping thousands of Jewish orphans escape to Switzerland.

Directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, Resistance stars Jess Eisenberg, Ed Harris, Geza Rohrig, Felix Moati, Clemence Poesy, Vica Kerekes, Matthias Schweighofer, Bella Ramsey, Louise Morell, Karl Markovics and Edgar Ramirez.

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The film begins in Munich, Germany, where Sigmund, a German Orthodox Jew, played by Edgar Ramirez, and his wife are putting their daughter, Elsbeth, played by Bella Ramsey, to bed. She is asking why the Germans hate them so much. Not wanting to propagate the spread of hatred he explains, Hitler blames the poor economy on the them and soon it will be over, and life will be back to normal.

After prayers, all is quiet, suddenly a loud bang interrupts the silence and the sounds of violence, German soldiers. Elsbeth rushes to the door to see her father and mother being led away. She follows to the street to watch as they are beaten and executed.

The film fast forwards a few years and in the town of Strasbourg, France, a young actor Marcel, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is performing his art at the local tavern. Here we see the early perfections of Charlie Chaplin as Marcel works out his characters. He looks up and sees his father, Charles, played by Karl Markovics. He rushes out where he is waiting. Soon the two are having what is obviously a conversation they have had many times before.

His father, a butcher, has Marcel working in the shop. Soon  we meet Georges, played by Geza Rohrig, who approaches Marcel about the Jewish orphans arriving. The french paid a ransom to Germany to release the orphans and now they need him to do his “clown” work to keep the kids occupied. He begins by saying he is just too busy, then he gathers with the others to see more than 200 orphans arrive, and he changes his mind.

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Soon we meet Marcel’s brother Alain, played by Felix Moati, a French Solider, and two sisters Emma, played by Clemence Poesy, and Mila, played by Vica Kerekes who are friends of their family. The five become dedicated to relocating the displaced Jewish orphans.

Two years later, they are warned that Hitler is on the move, and to evacuate the border towns. Within two weeks, the German army moved across Poland, Luxembourg, Belgium and captured Paris. The families all moved to Vinchy, along with the orphans, and yet everyone knew the time was limited.

Marcel, Emma, Alain and Mila, all decided to join the French resistance. This is where we meet Klaus Barbie played by Matthias Schweighofer. It wasn’t long after they arrived in a safe house that it was raided. The sisters Emma and Mila were taken.

After executing two of the four women, Barbie took Emma to his torture room, handcuffed her. He was known as ruthless, evil, sub-human, and someone who could disarm his subjects while he was planning to torture them. He asked her is she understood the term skinning, a torture method so diabolical and vicious it was perfected by the Nazi's. Even as she protested, she knew nothing, he remained calm and explained, "I have decided Emma, I am going to let you live. I am not going to kill you."

This is where the film shift to building a real resistance through living, to fight by outwitting evil, to dare, to challenge the odds, to hope.

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Resistance is more than another autobiography of someone who survived the satanic evil of the Nazi invasion to become famous. It tells the story of someone who became determined to live and ensure others lived to tell the story of the Nazi hatred, to ensure that through memory and history we can all live and never forget.

Resistance is a performance driven masterpiece. It is extraordinary in its delivery. These actors, all world class, from every country, bring impressive character driven performances to the screen.

Jesse Eisenberg delivered an exceptional performance as the eccentric and determined mime. Mimes are generally not the most sought-after performers, and yet Marcel Marceau became the artist, driven because there was no other choice. He was an artist and oddly a mime.

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The character of Klaus Barbie, brought to life by Matthias Schweighofer, captures the attention. Even as he was never diagnosed as a schizophrenic, Schweighofer, presents this role of tender, gentle, husband and father, and the emissary of Satan himself, who embodies evil beyond even the definition of the word.

Every performer took their roles, their characters and became them, they personified the time, the individual, the truth of the moment. Ed Harris portrays General George S. Patton and presents the story with authenticity.

Stunning, a masterpiece; Four-star performances throughout.

Resistance opens March 27, 2020 on VOD platforms everywhere.

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