Resistance

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Resistance Movie Poster Image
Violent but inspiring WWII story about Marcel Marceau.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 120 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Explores the idea of whether it's better to be in the resistance, going on the offensive against the Nazis, or to stay on the defensive, trying to rescue as many people as possible. Also addresses the idea of heroism and whether or not a hero needs to be entirely selfless. Of Nazis, asks the question: How can anyone capable of such evil deeds be human? Tackles the concept of revenge; the main character asserts that revenge won't be useful in the end.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Marcel is generally accepted as a real-life hero, and the movie, while relying more on storytelling than on cold, hard facts, celebrates that heroism. Marcel starts out thinking mainly about himself; he begins helping others mainly as a way to impress the girl he likes. But soon he's doing it because it needs to be done, and he no longer questions it. He faces difficult challenges and suffers losses (and lights a Nazi on fire) and courageously keeps on going. He truly grows and changes over the course of the movie, and his deeds make a difference.

Violence

Scene in a Nazi torture chamber includes torture equipment/devices hanging on the wall. Discussion/description of "flaying" a person's skin. Guns and shooting; characters shot and killed. Major characters die. Nazis beat and kick people to death. Nazi officer beats a character with a chair and a stick. Hero lights a Nazi on fire. Nazis take people away. Sudden loud noises, screaming. Character slammed up against wall. Character attempts suicide by jumping in front of a train. Truckload of children -- orphans -- whose parents were killed by Nazis. Tension/danger.

Sex

A couple kisses and is naked under covers (nothing explicit shown). Sex is implied. Sex talk. Discussion about a young girl's first period.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A character casually drinks a pint of beer. A scene in a nightclub shows drinks in the background.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Resistance is about famous mime Marcel Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg), who helped rescue many children from the Nazis during World War II. It has some intense wartime violence, including guns and shooting (characters are shot and killed), brutal beatings, a Nazi being set on fire, family separations, sudden loud nosies/screaming, and an attempted suicide. A couple kisses and is seemingly naked under their blanket. Sex is implied and briefly discussed. A character drinks beer, but overall substance use, language, and consumerism aren't issues. It's less a biopic than it is a suspenseful, touching, and bittersweet story of heroism. It does have a few cliches (and it's a French story told in English), but it's still beautifully made and acted.

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What's the story?

In RESISTANCE, General Patton (Ed Harris) and his troops have liberated Paris at the end of WWII, and he tells his men the story of Marcel Marceau (Jesse Eisenberg). Marcel wants to be an artist -- and is already a skilled mime. But he finds his plans sidetracked when the woman he loves, Emma (Clemence Poesy), inspires him to start helping rescue children whose parents were killed by Nazis. Marcel's antics keep the children entertained. But before long, he decides to join the resistance. During a mission, Emma encounters the cruelty of Klaus Barbie (Matthias Schweighofer), and Marcel determines that the best way to win the war is to help as many Jews survive as possible. So their plan changes to transporting orphans through the frozen woods to Switzerland, where they'll be safe. But Klaus has figured out their plan.

Is it any good?

While it hits some familiar biopic notes in its first half, this WWII drama (with a fine performance by Eisenberg) eventually becomes an unabashed, heroic tale of good-vs.-evil and sacrifice. Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz (Hands of Stone), Resistance does offer a couple of typical "origin story" moments in the career of the master French mime, it soon puts Marcel's skills to good use in delightful scenes. In one, he entertains unruly children by pretending that he flutters away when they collectively blow on him, like a flame from a candle. In another, he shows them how to hide in a treetop by pretending to be a squirrel.

Before long, Resistance concentrates on scenes of planning, secret missions, and escapes. Jakubowicz captures many moments in long, graceful tracking shots, highlighting the details of places, whether they're underground hideouts or swanky hotels. This is a glossy, vigorous movie, alternately pulse-pounding and heartstring-tugging. Eisenberg is the movie's centerpiece, not only perfecting several examples of Marceau's poetic mime, but also using an entertainer's command to both win over the woman of his dreams and to fool the Nazi villain in a very tense sequence. Resistance has likely taken liberties with some facts, and it's slightly annoying that a French story has been told in English, but it's ultimately designed less to educate than to inspire.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Resistance's violence. How did it affect you? How were the scenes of violence committed by Nazis and violence committed against the Nazis different?

  • Why do you think Marcel chooses not to seek revenge against Klaus Barbie? Why is revenge appealing? What usually comes of it?

  • Is Marcel a positive role model, even though he claims to "only think about himself"? Why or why not? How does he demonstrate courage?

  • How accurate do you think the movie is to what actually happened? Why might filmmakers decide to change the facts in a movie based on a true story? How could you find out more?

Movie details

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