Resistance (2020) did an admirable job of summarizing Nazi brutality in occupied France. Not so much when it comes to the many personas of Marcel Marceau.
Resistance (2020) Synopsis
A true artist at heart but made to work as a butcher’s assistant by family obligations, young Marcel Mangel’s life is turned upside down when France declares war on Germany in 1939. Through his brother and cousin, he also becomes increasingly involved with efforts to rescue orphaned children of Jewish holocaust victims. Eventually, he devotes himself completely to La Résistance, and through that, cements the essence of his art.
Earlier in the year, when I reviewed Jojo Rabbit, I mentioned how WWII movies involving the Nazis are among the trickiest in the trade.
How much brutality do you portray without the movie feeling exploitative or obsessively gory? How much humanism do you emphasise without the movie becoming too romanticised or lyrical?
As far as these balances are concerned, I feel Resistance (2020) did a reasonable job. The mood is disconnected at parts for sure, but as a story about non-frontline heroes surviving one of the most inhuman aggressions in history, the message comes across. This being everyday folks with (perhaps) mundane dreams and aspirations, who eventually rise to the occasion for the sake of country and race.
Balance, though, is noticeably missing from the characterisation of Marcel Mangel i.e. Marcel Marceau, France’s legendary mime icon. The story ensures you do not forget he is an artist at heart, but once the tale expands, his talents are largely side-lined. Which then makes the “return” to art during the epilogue incongruous. If not, trite.
Of course, with what was going on in Vichy France back then, it’s admittedly unreasonable to expect Marceau to still be doing comedic impersonations while avoiding the Gestapo, or raving about art the whole day. Still, I emerged from the cinema with a terse summary of Marceau’s deeds but little as far as his craft or his talents are concerned. I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing, but it does leave a peculiar hollow sensation.