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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 noises/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 clichés (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 offers a couple of typical "origin story" moments in the career of the master French mime, and 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 both to 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 different from those of violence committed against the Nazis?
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?
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