If stories like Marcel Marceau’s were taught to me as a kid, I definitely would have paid more attention in history class.
Prior to this film, I had not heard of Marcel Marceau before, at all. And admittedly, I am a little ashamed of that, as I consider myself such a passionate advocate for the arts and for theatre. Considering I had not heard of Marceau before, I also knew nothing of his humanitarian efforts in the French Resistance, saving Jewish orphans during the Second World War. As you can imagine, and for many reasons, Resistance was an eye-opener for me.
Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz, Resistance follows Eisenberg’s character Marcel Mangel, a young French-Jewish struggling artist, son of a kosher butcher father, who in their brief exchanges, appears to discourage his son from desiring a career on the stage. It was only during the German occupation of France did Marcel change his last name to ‘Marceau’.
In a frightening rollercoaster ride through love, understanding, fear and resilience, we follow Marcel’s experiences during World War II. During my viewing, I hung on the edge of my seat, overcome with fear for the characters and overwhelmed with hope for their survival. Every death, every struggle – I felt everything, and it was heartbreaking. Heartbreaking not only from the prejudice and terror that these characters had to face, but from the acknowledgement that this really happened. Many were victims, all those who were deemed imperfect in Hitler’s eyes.
Perfectly cast, Jewish-American actor Jesse Eisenberg is awkward but kind as Marcel Marceau, portraying the artist with a stubborn yet strong sense of humility. Despite the many obstacles, dodging the Nazis and continuously risking his life, for some reason Eisenberg’s Marcel still felt very loving, sensitive and pure. This was shown in the scenes where Marcel is bonding with the children for the first time in their new sanctuary. Honestly, Eisenberg had me enchanted from the very beginning and I could not take my eyes off him throughout his entire performance. Sure, he doesn’t have a great French accent, but I was too captivated by his talents and the enthralling story to notice.
While I could go on about the happenings in this film, as this story is based on truth, I believe that my elaborate explanations of the storyline would only hinder one’s experience of the film. After all, you can only watch a film for the first time once, and this is one film you have to watch.
What I can say is that during such an important time in our lives with the current social climate, there are many strong messages that need to be acknowledged from Marceau’s actions, all displayed thoroughly via Eisenberg’s role in Resistance, and all are incredibly important and still relevant to today.
Its films like these that make me feel blessed and thankful to be a film critic, as I get to watch movies that I would normally not go out of my way to see. I believe that Resistance is a wonderful raw tribute to the silent hero and a well-told compelling story of courage that deserves to be remembered. And while Marcel Marceau is a hero who later went on to become a celebrated and legendary mime artist, let us not forget that he too had his small beginnings, as he was once only a son of a butcher man.
Heroes can emerge from the most unlikely places and I am thankful that writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz took the time to help recognise and highlight Marcel Marceau’s humanitarian work – 13 years after his death. I only wish that I knew of all of this and of him while he was still alive.
Resistance will have its Australian premiere and be available to stream exclusively ‘At Home’ by Classic, Lido, Cameo and Ritz Cinemas from 9am on Wednesday the 10th of June in collaboration with the Jewish International Film Festival (JIFF).
To watch Resistance, visit: https://athome.lidocinemas.com.au/film/resistance
Resistance will be available to rent from the Foxtel Store from the June 11 to July 11.
The film will have a select cinema release in Melbourne from the 22nd of June, with other states in Australia to follow.
From the 29th of July, Resistance will be available to rent from iTunes, Google Play, Sony (Playstation Network) Microsoft (Xbox Network), Foxtel PPV, Bigpond, Fetch and Quickflix.