Recently, the Resistance against Nazis in World War II is back in the news. Last year saw the publication of Madame Fourcade’s Secret War, Lynne Olson’s heart-stopping homage to the largest of the Resistance groups in France. Soon, Judy Batalion’s The Light of Days about women resistance fighters in Hitler’s ghettos will be published.
And, now, IFC offers Resistance. This uneven film is Jonathan Jakubowicz’s homage to Marcel Marceau. The world-famous, model mime served nobly and well as a savior of thousands of children during the war and as a forger.
We just thought he was in an invisible box on the Ed Sullivan Show, but this biopic shows him interrupting his rehearsals in the art of silence, as he called mime.
Marceau swore he had no interest or ability or patience for children. That’s what he told his brother Alain, who scolded him: “All you care about is yourself.” Alain dragged Marcel to see the latest truckload of orphans, whose parents had been killed by Nazis. They were bug-eyed frightened — until Marcel pretended to pull his face from a frown to a smile. And the children laughed.
Thus began Marceau’s years in those trenches, guiding children to freedom through the snows of the Alps into Switzerland and freedom and forging their papers. General George S. Patton introduces this “life of courage” and closes it, too, by introducing Marceau the mime to his soldiers in 1945 in Nuremberg.
Ed Harris plays the cameo role of Patton; the winsome Clémence Poésy plays fiercesome Emma, in an unbelievable subplot; and Géza Röhrig, the Hungarian actor in “The Chaperone,” well plays cousin Georges. Unfortunately, the star, Jesse Eisenberg, never fits into Marceau, his voice wired and rapid when not silent, and his long fingers wagging like a tongue.
Jakubowicz cannot lift “Resistance” away from the miscast Eisenberg, but he can supply awesome shots of snow-covered trees. However, the Venezuelan director brings Marceau’s heroism into the light of day for better or for worse.