Jesse Eisenberg is winning as the WWII heroic actor.
In a vein of “Schindler’s List” and “Life is Beautiful,” “Resistance” is a WWII movie that’s based on the true story of how French actor and mime Marcel Marceau (1923-2007) saved the lives of the orphaned Jewish children during his aid in the French Resistance. It’s also a personal film for Jesse Eisenberg, who portrays the real-life figure, being that they come from the same Polish-Jewish heritage, and he gives all his levity and heart in resurrecting him.
I saw this movie at the Boulder International Film Festival (BIFF), where Eisenberg explained to the moderator some of the actors who portrayed Marcel’s relatives. Karl Markovics (best known for his performance in “The Counterfeiters”) portrays his butcher father Charles Mangel, while Geza Rohrig (best known for his role in “Son of Saul”) portrays his cousin Georges Loinger, who joins Marcel in the resistance. And the actor also explains how this film reflects on the past and present, when antisemitism is one of the many recurring issues in this world, and how this mime had an impact during the war.
- Besides Marcel’s tribe, the movie also introduces us to Matthias Schweighofer as Klaus Barbie, A.K.A the Butcher of Lyon, who intends to hunt down the resistance, and help Hitler define real Nazism to homosexual Nazism. He’s a monster, but you already knew that.
- Clemence Poesy plays Emma, a young woman and Marcel’s love interest, whose sister (Vica Kerekes) gets murdered by the same monster, and helps her team free the orphaned children.
- And Bella Ramsey plays Elsbeth, a young girl, who witnesses the death of her parents (featuring Edgar Ramirez as her father), and is part of the orphaned children. These actors are exceptional, once you see how they bring out the best and worst of their characters.
I wouldn’t recommend watching the beginning of a torture and death scene again and again; but I do highly recommend this movie for its ability to let Eisenberg reflect on his family’s heritage and the mime who was awarded the Medal of the City of Paris (or Medaille de la Ville de Paris). This historical figure was able to transcend from a self-centered wannabe star to a brave and heroic man.
There’s a complexity and depth to the nature of this past, and almost every scene with Klaus Barbie kept me at the edge of my seat. Not to mention his encounters with the resistance members, including Marcel. There’s also two empty indoor pool scene where the monster shoots his victims to their deaths; and they’re beautifully photographed, acted, and balanced.
It studies a beautiful man with a passion and a change of heart and perspective; and Eisenberg delivers one of his finest performances in that role. And yet, the movie isn’t focused on just him, but rather on his family, friends, resistance members, and enemies. Writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz delivers a near masterpiece of art, thrills, comedy, sentimental values, and passion.
Also on VOD this Friday