Resistance Review: Jesse Eisenberg is Marcel Marceau in Effective Story of World War II-Era Rebellion

thefilmstage.com

Summary

by Jared Mobarak

If anything he gave the stage to the as yet unknown 'Bip the Clown' as a reward for everything he did as a member of the French resistance and a liberator himself by taking hundreds of Jewish children across the Swiss Alps to freedom.

As writer/director Jonathan Jakubowicz film Resistance describes it, however, Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg) evolutionary thaw also involved a woman, namely Emma (Clemence Poesy) presence during a campaign to bribe German officials and allow one hundred and twenty children into France under the supervision of a mutual friend. Georges (Geza Rohrig) recruits Marcel because, like the mime father (Karl Markovics' Charles), he interprets the act as being akin to clownery and its potential for laughter was exactly what these kids needed. While shame could not quite get Marcel there after his brother Alain (Felix Moati) joins the elucidatory party to pile ridicule and disappointment upon the actor self-serious nature, seeing Emma at the frontline gets him to stay.

And while the filmmaker goes out of his way to make sure we believe everything on-screen is true (there are many interstitials during and after the film to educate viewers and ensure we know exactly what is going on contextually), he also bookends the whole as an anecdote told by Patton (Ed Harris) during his introduction of the aforementioned performance (a way to excuse any liberties that Jakubowicz might have otherwise taken).

It weird to say World War II was necessary for Marcel to find the empathy that made him great, but that pretty much the film thesis considering he might never have emotionally connected with his father had they stayed in Strasbourg as butchers or won over Emma affection had he continued pursuing a career on-stage as though it were God mission to do so. Letting him fall to the background in order to not overtly overshadow the nightmare scenario unfolding is a big part of the film success and a mirror that shows how misguided it was to not do the same on the equation other side.

Rather than stick with Resistance being about the heroism shown opposite a wholesale movement, Jakubowicz introduces Klaus Barbie (Matthias Schweighofer) about halfway through to become a literal target for our ire.

Schweighofer is easy to hate (a fact that renders the decision to humanize his life in order to then make his actions more despicable odder still), and Eisenberg is effective yet again as a 'genius' whose pragmatism borderlines on Asperger if not full-on misanthropy.

Published on March 24, 2020
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Keywords:
  • marcel
  • jakubowicz
  • emma
  • film
  • jesse eisenberg
  • marcel marceau
  • world war ii
  • kids
  • orphans
  • nazis

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