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"inspiring, powerful, harrowing, moving"


- The other Eisenberg entry this week is more worthwhile, if at times unflinchingly hard to watch. Resistance is a true story, largely unknown even to those in France where it takes place, and stars Eisenberg as none other than a young Marcel Marceau. That is right, Marcel Marceau, perhaps the most famous mime who ever lived. But this is not about his later life in show business but rather the heroic things he did in 1938 and ’39, when he helped lead 10,000 orphans to safety from invading Nazis during the French resistance.

It is an inspiring and powerful if at times harrowing tale of how Marcel (then known by his birth name Marcel Mangel) pulled off this feat with the help of a group of others in the Jewish Boy Scouts, forced to outwit the Nazi officers and one in particular — the evil Klaus Barbie (played with horrifying intensity by Matthias Schweighofer) — who was determined to stop the exodus. One pulse-pounding scene finds Barbie confronting Marcel and suggesting his big fake moustache was meant to parody Hitler, but instead is convinced that it is all part of his Charlie Chaplin impression in order to entertain the children. 

Resistance, effectively written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, not only follows Marcel but other characters caught up in the resistance efforts, with an excellent ensemble cast including Edgar Ramirez, Geza Rohrig, Bella Ramsey and Clemence Posey, the latter as Emma and serving as a bit of a romantic interest for the young man. A sequence near the beginning of the film in which the cold-blooded nature of the enemy is shown in no uncertain terms, as well as Barbie’s scenes of torture and murder in an empty swimming pool at the Hotel Terminus, are presented in chilling fashion, so be warned. But for the most part this is a story of the courage of a person we later would come to know in a much different light after the war, a little-known aspect of the man who entertained so many without uttering a single word.

Eisenberg is very convincing, even naturally resembling Marceau, and also acquits himself convincingly in scenes where his mime talents are showcased. Opening and closing scenes that bookend the film feature Ed Harris in a cameo as General George S. Patton addressing his troops to praise the wartime heroism of “a man named Marcel.” The ending is very moving, and this is one of Eisenberg’s finest performances.


Resistance is now playing at Light House Petone & Pauatahanui! 


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