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film review

Jesse Eisenberg and Clémence Poésy star in Resistance.Handout

  • Resistance
  • Written and directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz
  • Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Clemence Poesy and Ed Harris
  • Classification R; 120 minutes

Rating:

2 out of 4 stars

Although movie theatres are shuttered and it’s an open question as to when studios might release their largest 2020 blockbusters digitally – or if they’ll hold onto those tentpoles until, say, next year – it’s currently a boom time for digitally distributed Jesse Eisenberg movies. On March 27, the Eisenberg-starring dark comedy Vivarium premieres on Apple TV and on demand, and on March 31, the Eisenberg vehicle Resistance makes its way online, too. With both projects, though, we’re a long way from The Social Network.

You can read my Vivarium take elsewhere, but at least that lacklustre film had a defining vision through and through. The Second World War drama Resistance, however, possesses a style that can be summed up as simply formulaic. You’ve seen this type of fight-back movie before, many many times, and its one novel element – its hero is French mime Marcel Marceau, who it turns out fought for the French Jewish Resistance as a teenager – is a figure so nearly lost to time that there’s little compelling material for contemporary audiences to embrace.

Eisenberg does an admirable job porting his typically nervous energy into Marceau, a man who’s not portrayed as a full-blooded hero so much as a sincere, if naive, nebbish constantly wrestling with his fears and doubts. The same praise can’t quite be directed to his co-stars, though, including the wildly unrestrained eyes-bulging psychopathy that Matthias Schweighofer brings to Nazi commander Klaus Barbie. Ed Harris, who pops up briefly as General George S. Patton, easily radiates gravitas, but his appearance is rendered useless by a framing device that’s revealed as supremely silly, rather than the heartfelt vibe that I can only assume writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz was originally aiming for.

Resistance is available on Apple TV starting March 31

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