February 20, 2009 at 5:40 pm (Movies and TV)

Remember those free movie passes I mentioned getting the day I saw Rachel Getting Married? Well, they saved me from having to pay admission for Defiance. I took my mom. When the movie was over, we turned to each other awkwardly and I said, “the best thing about this movie is we didn’t lose any money seeing it.” She howled and gave me a high five, as our own act of defiance was to sit through the entire film.

The Holocaust is a popular topic this year. Defiance is up for an Oscar, Best Score; the score is a lovely violin-centered affair which will lose to Slumdog Millionaire. The story behind Defiance is a true one, and I respect that. But the movie rendition has the ambling quality of the Blair Witch Project or the second Lord of the Rings, and there are so many breaches of logic onscreen it is nearly laughable.

I know people turned over their valuables as soon as they arrived to the forest camp, so the community could trade them for necessities…but…how is it that a wedding scene involved two very ornate wooden dining chairs? Were the chairs brought to the woods on someone’s back? Surely these folks would not have had the right tools to make such chairs…and if I were doing the trading, logically, I’d probably only trade for medicine, food, clothes, shoes, or weapons. It was also a stretch to see glass-paned windows on a couple of the log cabins. Why anyone would take the trouble to install glass windows on camp which would need to be abandoned at a moment’s notice, I can’t say.

My mom and I had real trouble with the scene where the group is running from the Nazi’s and has to cross a marsh. We couldn’t understand how children and little old ladies survived that, and would have liked to see more about that than who’s shacking up with whom.  The picture also makes use of “fuzzy math,” because the group of people didn’t ever seem to change, even after planes bombed a bunker we just saw 30 people jump into; there seemed to be an inordinate number of bodies but the same number of people still alive. We find out later that 1,200 were in the woods and they only lost 50…you don’t get that sense at all.

There are also a few camera filters and shooting styles thrown in for artistic value which are completely inappropriate. Had they gone the action movie route, the jarring style used in the entire film Children of Men would have been perfect to use during a shootout. But otherwise, it is out of place. At one point a yellow filter is used to overemphasize the appearance of sunlight after a hard winter, which works…but that filter is then used at least twice more in cases that don’t make as much sense.

The trailer promised an action movie, and oh, but how I wish it actually were. It would have been so much more entertaining. Liev Schreiber and Daniel Craig are both reasonably good actors, doing the best they can to bring justice simultaneously to an amazing true story and a subpar screenplay. Daniel Craig has always disturbed me to look at, but I realized he is actually a handsome man when he smiles. Maybe not in this movie, but he should smile more. I suspect now that he is finished with Defiance, he is smiling more.


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