Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review - Defiance

Four Jewish brothers are forced to take refuge in the Belarussian forest escaping from a Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe. In order to protect themselves and 1,000 Jewish refugees, the brothers seek an alliance with Russian resistance fighters while building and maintaining a small community hidden inside of the forests.

"Defaince" is a powerful true story that takes a close look at the Bielski family's actions that led to the survival of over 1,000 Jewish non-combatants. Edward Zwick (Blood Diamond) wrote and directed "Defiance" and excels in utilizing a different prospective on the Nazi Holocaust, focusing instead on the resistance of a selected few and not the decimation of the people. Zwick, who in the past has always had a strong mix of action and compelling drama in his films, does not faulter here in "Defiance." More so, Zwick presents a emotionally driven story that has outstanding performances from Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell, dynamic action that tickles the sense, a score that earned itself an Oscar nomination and an overall engrossing film from start to finish.

Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell deliver mesmerizing performances throughout "Defiance" that take the viewer through a whirlwind of emotions. Craig is stunning as Tuvia Bielski, the oldest of four brothers who assumes the role of the leader to the growing group of fleeing Jews from the Nazi war machine. Craig absolutely personifies the sollace of a hardened and torn leader desperately trying to defend and save his people, faced with decimation. One of Craig's pinnacle moments comes from a speech he gives to the camp as they prepare for their time in the forest. This scene quickly resurrects intense emotions that grab at the viewer's heart, presenting just how difficult their survival will be.

Schreiber plays the grim Zus Bielski, tormented by the loss of his wife and child, who will not sit idly by while more Jews die. Zus and Tuvia together become the foundation of the hope to the band of defiants. Schreiber and Craig both conquer in creating stirring accounts to the sacrifice and desperation the group is faced with. All of the shared scenes between the two thespians hit hard and help to propell the absorbing true account in unblemished fashion. Jamie Bell playing Asael Bielski also provides a entrancing performance as the third brother who must pick up the pieces after Nazi's kill his parents and leave his town destroyed. Asael is the outsider to his two older brothers, however he holds his own, becoming another sturdy figure in the hidden community. Bell's baby face was a perfect match for Asael and he nails his emotionally charged role in every aspect.

Edward Zwick's film "Defiance" is a wonderful blend of engaging drama and thrilling action. The powerful opening sets a desperate tone from the first frame and never waivers. Zwick's script is absorbing and is matched with magnificent performances by the entire cast. The action throughout "Defiance" is well paced and hypnotizing, ultimately conveying a true sense of the desperation and conviction the fleed were faced with. The action which comes in spurts in the 137 minute film, takes an unbashful approach, showing the true gritty nature to WWII warfare. Finally, Eduardo Serra grabs the viewers attention with his stunning cinematography throughout "Defiance" presenting an absorbing vision that rings true to Zwick's vision of both desperation and hope.