Movie Review: Resistance
With the allure of period pieces, a sickening inevitability of historical dramas, there comes a certain quality control. Appealing to the big names of yesterday with relative ease is no such surprise, and to see Jesse Eisenberg and Ed Harris form the leading narrative for this should be an acceptance of where their careers are, rather than where they are were just a few short years ago. Either a cash cow too good to refuse, or some other vested interest in the life of Marcel Marceau, a French mime caught up in the resistance, fighting back against the tyranny of fascism. As noble and heroic the work of Marceau may be, it is rather sad to see his story spun in yet another shell-like narrative, one that fails to engage with the prominent and decisively strong themes of the war drama genre.
Yet these themes are not enough to disguise Eisenberg, who plays himself and that usual, stammering speech style under the guise of a French accent. The results are comical, not quite a discredit to the talent he clearly possesses, but not a good mix either way. He struts around with a bowtie, flat cap and some odd-looking sunglasses, taking in the cinematography that just about gets the job done. That’s all we can hope for, isn’t it? Some semblance of competency in amongst the vernacular of the time. Sadly, this quality lacks, and in its place is Eisenberg, exploring the weird world of art as a mime artist.
Artistry, ironically, is rather lacking throughout. While it hits the emotional bell from time to time, and acceptably so, it is paired with the usual, unshakable feeling of cliché. A soundtrack thick with piano keys, prising at the heartstrings in the vein hope that audio cues would be enough to bring some connection to the table. It is not, not quite anyway. The efforts are clear and present, but there is a danger of slipping into relatively pale and poor styles, and director Jonathan Jakubowicz loses his balance here. He never has anything that is ultimately interesting or poignant to say, but he comes close to the cusp of solid work every so often.
Of acceptable quality, Resistance falls into a forgettable slump. It captures the horrors of the build-up to World War Two with, to its credit, a relatively accurate depiction of the horrors that Nazi occupation brought. Emotive, even, to his credit, Jakubowicz has nailed that. But, and this is crucial, he fails to do anything of note with these feelings of terror. Half the battle is won when you can cut through the thick fog of war, the emotive distress captured elsewhere is dense and bland, Resistance manages a capable accommodation to terrified resistance fighters. Unfortunately, this emotion is lost, in its place, Eisenberg dons a Charlie Chaplin outfit and scuttles his way across the stage. There stands a testament to the fact that, no matter how well you handle your themes, audiences can only take them as seriously as the leading man, who in this instance is a mime artist.