Mimes may not be well regarded anymore but a movie about the heroic actions of a world-famous mime might just be admired. Last week we had the opportunity to watch Resistance, a historical drama set during the Nazi occupation.
Resistance is a biographical film inspired by events in the life of Marcel Marceau, the most well-known mime, who joined the French resistance in 1939 and saved the lives of thousands of orphaned Jewish children who would have faced brutal death by the Nazis.
We meet Marceau in 1938 when he is still known as Marcel Mangel, working in his family’s butcher shop in Strasbourg and secretly pursuing his ambitions as an artist. He hopes to settle down with Emma (Clemence Poesy) but her priority is finding a safe haven for children whose families were killed by the Nazis. Emma, his cousin George (Geza Rohrig), and brother Alain (Felix Moati) convince Marcel to help them smuggle these kids into a makeshift orphanage. Marcel agrees and immediately begins to bond with the children using his miming gifts and hiding tricks. All of which become life saving tips during their quest to escape the Nazis on their way to Switzerland.
Though Marceau and his talents are central to the plot, Resistance avoids cliché and makes him a relatable hero among many other heroes fighting alongside him to save children. Director and writer, Jonathan Jakubowicz, deliberately positions Marceau in the background in the second act to allow every character’s story to unfold. It’s an error to think the plot shies away from addressing the darker elements of the Nazi occupation in favour of presenting the children’s lives only. There are many subplots being told at once, all of which intertwine in moments ranging from horror to nail biting suspense and feel good moments.
Resistance does have many notable flaws. Eisenberg provides a likable and sympathetic lead performance, but his accent leaves a lot to be desired. Though he is not the only one who suffers from inconsistent accents throughout the film. Many of the support characters switch between multiple accents and it’s impossible to ignore.
The other main issue is the pacing between the first and second half of the story. It comes across disjointed, almost as if viewers are watching two separate movies in those two hours. One which is slow and occasionally dull while the other is packed with nail biting moments. Understandably, it is important to include Marcel’s life prior to joining the resistance, however, it could have had a smoother transition without it being so evident.
While Resistance does cover the horrors Nazis have inflicted upon other humans, it does so in a respectful manner – Jakubowicz doesn’t exploit it for our entertainment. There is a scene involving Emma and her sister which could have had the potential to grab headlines had Jakubowicz revealed it in full, but he chose to focus on the emotions of the characters involved instead of the gore.
Though the story in Resistance is filled with a shameful part of human history, it is undeniably a story of hope and courage worthy telling. 6/10
Resistance is available to rent on the Foxtel Store from June 11 – July 11 with a cinema release starting on June 22 in Melbourne before expanding to other cities.
After July 29th the film will be available via iTunes, Google Play, Sony (Playstation Network), Microsoft (Xbox), Foxtel PPV, Bigpond, Fetch & Quickflix.