Jewish brothers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe escape into the Belarussian forests, where they join Russian resistance fighters and endeavor to build a village in order to protect themselves and about 1,000 Jewish non-combatants.
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Rule No. 1 when making a film about partisans in Belorussia: steal as much as possible from "Idi i smotri". Cover your lack of ideas with cheesy music and use ridiculous dialogue spiced with embarassing russian accents.
The first hour of Defiance is great but unfortunately it seemed to rely heavily on the chemistry between Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. Once the characters were split up the movie went to hell. Picture going camping with a low-rent Schindler's List.
Inspired by the true story about the Belski partisans who lived deep into the Ukranian forests. It holds itself pretty close to the source material and is a gripping survival story. I like that the movie dares to show the brothers as humans doing bad decisions and have dark sides. An unnecessary action climax with a big tank has no basis with real life as if Craig needed a 007 moment. Still solid stuff though.
I very much enjoyed the setup and the beginning of the film. Craig and Schreiber worked well together. However, after they separated and their two paths began, the narrative felt much more of a history survey course - we hit the big points but lost the small humanistic moments that make the characters real. Zwick relied a little too heavily on tropes to make me feel sad. That being said, a truly gut-wrenching tale.
Amazing story but the film is a bit of a fail. Michael Phillip's Chicago Tribune review is spot-on. He laments that "the telling feels honest one minute and false the next" and remarks "the characters sound less like real people than actors in a play." He lauds Craig and Schreiber's "simmering-kettle performances" that "consistently outshine their material." Beautiful cinematography helps but watch for the history.
Don't watch this as an evening movie. If you do not fall asleep, it has enough cheese and over-dramatic moments to make you have hallucinations with very bad Eastern European accents for the whole night.
Seriously though, this at times seems even outright disrespectful, especially to people who were perishing in the ghettos.
I didn't waste my time for watching this movie. It is telling a story, it gives emotions and even after a while it makes me think about some of the scenes I have seen. Just because of this reason, I can say that I liked the movie. That is the same reason why I am not planing to watch it again. P.S. Good choice for Lithuanian forests.