You might think you would want to just watch happy movies at a time like this. You may wish to surround yourself with laughter, celebrations and feasting with friends and family. But there is another way to put what you, and we, have all have been through, into perspective. And that is to know and to learn what others are going though and to understand what others have been though.
Resistance tells the true story of Marcel Marceau, who was born into a Jewish family and lived during the occupation of France by Nazi Germany. He joined the resistance but, in the end, chose to resist by saving as many children as possible. In fact, the famous mime artist that he would become known for, ‘Bip the Clown’, was first developed from his time smuggling Jewish children, as a way to keep them quiet.
His life is filled with incredible achievements but this film concentrates on his early life and the first time he smuggles children to neutral Switzerland. Resistance is as serious as it sounds, and it’s driven by magnificent performances. The lead, Jesse Eisenberg, at first was a little distracting for me. But it soon worked as his character was someone who doesn’t seem to fit into his society; he’s awkward and self-centered. And yet when the time of calamity falls, he turns out to be exactly the type of person that’s needed.
To me the rest of the cast was pretty flawless, with two really, absolutely stand out performances. Matthias Schweighöfer, who plays the terrifying Nazi SS Agent Klaus Barbie. I would rate his performance up there with Ralph Fiennes and Christoph Waltz’s Nazi portrayals.
Clémence Poésy was also great, but for me the real stand out, and I actually hope she takes some award for her portrayal of Elsbeth, is Isabella Ramsey. Who you would most likely remember from Game of Thrones as the young noblewoman Lyanna Mormont. She was so good, every scene she was in she felt like she stole it. You know when that happens, it’s when every time she’s in a scene with others, you’re gauging off her emotions on how and what to feel. And feel you do, in a big way and often.
There are a number of ‘incredible’ moments in Resistance ranging all over the spectrum. From light and joyful, to the gut wrenchingly sad and terrified. One really memorable moment is when Marcel describes the importance of what they’re doing. He says the best way to resist is to “make sure more Jews survive,” explaining that helping the children reach a place of safety far outweighs the gratification of revenge. Which is such a powerful and brave position to take when you know that the character he says that to, had just been through at the hands of Klaus Barbie.
I feel that message is beautifully timed for this now. Where revenge can sometimes feel justified but it often turns into an exercise in selfishness when it puts even more of the poor, the innocent and the venerable in harm’s way. Resistance will shake you at times, it’s not visually that graphic in its portrayal of violence, but you certainly see it in the eyes that are witnessing it. You feel it when you see the little faces of those that are living it. Maybe I’m just more vulnerable at the moment and it hit home more than it normally would, but I’m glad I watched it. To be reminded by those who get it, what’s really important. You are.