Edge

Film Review: ‘Defiance’

In the hilarious and underrated television show “Extras,” Kate Winslet says, “If you do a film about the Holocaust, you’re guaranteed an Oscar.” Unfortunately, “Defiance” never quite reaches the brilliance of films like “Schindler’s List” and “The Pianist,” and thus its obvious quest for Academy Award glory will remain unfulfilled.

Though it is one of the first of its kind — a Holocaust action thriller — this incredible but true film lacks the pathos of its predecessors and does not do its subject matter justice. For one of the first times in cinematic history, palpable Jewish resistance against the Nazis is celebrated. In reality, the heroes of the film saved over 1,200 Jews, an incredible feat about which few people know.

That isn’t to say that “Defiance” is a bad film. It’s actually extremely compelling and features outstanding performances from many of its actors, but, for one reason or another, it never achieves greatness. Though they could not look more unrelated, Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Jamie Bell are uniformly excellent as Tuvia, Zus, and Asael Bielski, three brothers who unintentionally create a thriving camp in a forest where Jews from all over Belarus come to seek sanctuary.

Craig and Schreiber’s magnetism make their scenes together standouts and their constant quarrels over the prioritization of maintaining civilization, basic survival and vengeance are the best features of the film. Mark Feuerstein and Iddo Goldberg are also commendable, though Alexa Davalos and Mia Wasikowska are glaringly miscast as two refugees. Their subplots, which involve the men taking “forest wives,” seem to belong to a different film altogether.

“Defiance” is certainly not director Ed Zwick’s best effort by any means. Though far from perfect, “Defiance” remains incredibly profound.

January 25, 2009

Reporters

Sarah B. Pilchick

Senior EDGE Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

It’s the play Miami Hurricanes fans will never forget — and Florida State fans are trying to forget. ...

Miami Hurricanes fans might recall their favorite college football players in past years dreaming of ...

The new quarterback is usually the ones fans gush over. For the University of Miami, last season it ...

Debate all you want, but University of Miami football coach Mark Richt made it clearer than ever Wed ...

Last year, when University of Miami tailback Mark Walton attended the Atlantic Coast Conference Foot ...

UM dining services team earns national recognition for special event catering. ...

From hammerheads to great whites, University of Miami researcher Neil Hammerschlag is a dedicated sp ...

An ACLU report authored by UM sociologists documents racial and ethnic disparities in Miami-Dade Cou ...

Following the summit between Trump and Putin, reaction from politicians, pundits and former intellig ...

A School of Communication associate professor played an important hand—an artistic one!—in World Cup ...

Miami senior Tyler Gauthier was named to the 2018 Fall Watch List for the Rimington Trophy presented ...

Miami junior wide receiver Ahmmon Richards was among those named to the watch list for the 2018 Bile ...

University of Miami junior running back Travis Homer was named a preseason candidate for the Doak Wa ...

Six former Canes competed on NBA Summer League teams, with three averaging at least 10 points per ga ...

Quick Hits gives University of Miami volleyball fans an opportunity to get to know the new student-a ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.