Thursday, June 18, 2009

Defiance: Grade F

Defiance (2008)
Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber; Director Edward Zwick

Two Jewish brothers flee the Nazis in Poland to hide the forests of Belarus. Others get the same idea and soon they have a community of several dozens, then hundreds of refugees. Nazis hunt them down, and so do Russians, with whom they form an uneasy alliance to fight Nazis. There are a few gun battles of the type where no Nazi can hit any target but no Jew ever misses, but mostly it is the story of how the community survives and evolves. They are hungry, dirty, sad, and despairing, but they endure with dignity and fortitude. Craig stares off into middle distance quite a bit, supposedly to indicate depth of character, but actually indicating air-head since we know nothing about the character or what he might be thinking. Characters speak English among themselves in the forest but only Russian outside it, for some reason. Finally the time is up and the movie ends without resolution. Supposedly the whole tale is “based” on a true story, but so what? Nothing interesting happens. Dialog is pedestrian, vignettes are mundane, characters are not developed. I think we have already got the picture on this period of history. Nazis: bad. Jews: victims. There is nothing new to learn here. Some nice scenery and sets are shown, but even there, the forest had no underbrush, which seemed unnatural.

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