Resistance Tells Marcel Marceau’s Story

Clémence Poésy as “Emma” and Jesse Eisenberg as “Marcel” in Jonathan Jakubowicz’s Resistance. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films Release.

Resistance tells the true story of how actor Marcel Marceau ended up joining the French Resistance and saved children during World War 2.

The film only focuses on this portion of the famous mime’s life.  Years later, he would become the person who recited the only spoken word in Mel Brook’s Silent Movie.  Yet this isn’t a film that focuses on his life as a performer.  Born Marcel Mangel (Jesse Eisenberg), he turned to a life in theater much to the dismay of his father.  I’m not going to get into his biography because that’s already been done.  Mangel’s life changes suddenly when he plays witness to the atrocious acts and joins the French Resistance.

It’s during this time when Mangel assumes the identity of Marcel Marceau on his passport.  He does this to save the lives of orphaned children–taking them from Nazi-occupied France into the borders of neutral Switzerland.  When you’re Jewish, there’s not really any other choice to make!  After all, this is a man who risked his own life during a war to–again–save lives!

Jonathan Jakubowicz’s script makes the great decision of focusing on this time period in the mime’s life.  Other filmmakers might make the decision to focus on a longer time period but shorter is better.  The film does run two hours.  It’s no surprise to see a filmmaker like Jonathan Jakubowicz’ tackle this story.  For one, his family suffered major losses during the Holocaust.  Moreover, he fled his native Venezuela for the United States due to anti-Semitism from the government.  Such behavior coming from the government is simply unacceptable.  There is another message when it comes to government behavior.  However, I feel that this is another story for another day.

Watching Resistance on a Friday afternoon probably have not been the best decision to make while entering into Shabbas but oh, well.  I will say that hearing “Shalom Aleichem” being sung did help my mood going into an otherwise isolating weekend.  Granted, this was also before lighting candles.  Obviously, you’re not here to read about how lonely isolation can feel so I’ll get on with it.

What’s most surprising is that Resistance marks the first time that audiences get to see Marceau’s story play out on screen.  Is it long overdue?  Arguably.  Would it play better on a big screen?  Certainly but these are uncertain times so I definitely recommend making the time to watch the film.

Resistance is still a timely film in 2020, which is also makes for a sad reality in its own right.  It goes without saying that we’re seeing anti-Semitism coming from both the left and right.  Nobody is immune to it.  Anyway, let us celebrate the life of a man who saved lives.  He might not be with us anymore but this shouldn’t stop us from thankinhg him for doing the right thing.

CAST:  Jesse Eisenberg, Ed Harris,  Edgar Ramirez,  Clémence Poésy, Matthias Schweighöfer

IFC Films releases Resistance on Digital/VOD on March 27, 2020. Grade: 3.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.