It's a sad, yet inspiring story based on reality. During WWII, a group of Russian Jews hid in the forests of Eastern Europe as Nazi Germans exterminated Jewish citizens in towns and cities nearby. Theirs is a harrowing story of bravery and survival. Defiance tells it Hollywood-style. But, somehow the true-story courage bleeds through the at-times hokey movie-making formula scripting.
But Defiance is also a tale of two brothers. Perhaps, this is where the film most engages. Craig and Schreiber bring to life the trials of the Bielski brothers with fervor, grit and, well, brotherhood. Aside from a slightly annoying performance by Schreiber in the introductory moments, both dig deep into their characters and endear equally despite their contrasting attitudes.
I would have liked to have seen the following improvements. First, Craig's character's paradoxical embracing of both violent revenge and benevolent mercy needed more love and care in their realization. Likewise, the interesting relationship between this charismatic leader and a certain intellectual follower is only preambled -- it's never followed up on and thus feels truncated.
Overall, quite watchable.
-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --