Plot: Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavour to build a village, in order to protect themselves and about one thousand Jewish non-combatants.
Director: Edward Zwick
Released: January 2009
I’m normally a fan of what Edward Zwick can do with a film, Both Blood Diamond and Legends of the Fall were entertaining and felt like movies that needed to be made. He’s not a bad filmmaker and usually very suited to telling this sort of emotion-filled movie. this time one about a group of Jews hiding out in the woods, attempting to survive and help hundreds of others avoid being taken to the concentration camps, sadly, however, I found the film to be a swing and a miss.
As with the book it’s based on, the film centres around three brothers played by Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, Jamie Bell, which is probably one of the more fascinating parts of Defiance, with their brotherly bond tested by varying methods of survival and desire for revenge. Craig was particularly good as the oldest brother Tuvia and that made you care about the character, sadly however Schrieber and Bell’s performances were let down by their characters being sidelined for large portions of the film, thus affecting how much you care about them.
Another downside of the film is despite the film mostly taking place in the Bielski resistance camp, very little development of the supporting cast takes place apart from little occurrences and some cliche moments that you can see coming a mile off, even the few scenes set in the Ghetto didn’t contain the emotional punch mainly down to the lack of connection you feel with anyone. With only one exception being one sequence in which a young woman fights off a pack of wolves.
As usual with a Zwick production, the visuals and production quality are top-notch, with the wood made to feel like a character in their own right, however, these aspects coupled with Craig’s acting ability, unfortunately, aren’t enough to stop Defiance feeling too long, a bit boring and wrapped up with an ending that feels all too farfetched to be believable. Sadly ends up doing a disservice to this supposedly real story from WW2 and the characters involved.