Directed by Edward Zwick
Four brothers help fellow Jews escape Nazi-occupied Poland.
For a film about the Holocaust, Defiance is surprisingly uplifting, said Gene Newman in Premiere. Based on a true story, it chronicles the heroics of the Bielski brothers, who hid in the Belarusian woods in order to help fellow Jews escape. By refusing to portray Jews as passive victims, Defiance avoids the pitfalls of the season’s other Holocaust films. In fact, many Jews fought back, and director Edward Zwick strives to give the film a “powerful undercurrent of survival, hope, and honor.” Unfortunately, he lets the movie fall victim to Hollywood conventions, said Claudia Puig in USA Today. The Bielskis’ tale of resistance is “undeniably inspiring,” but Defiance too often relies on formulaic storytelling, familiar archetypes, and predictable bursts of action. What could have been a “complex and intimate portrait” of four brave individuals instead plays out like an “earnest history lesson.” But this is history worth knowing, said Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News. The Bielskis—as well as Zwick—deserve recognition for not being “afraid to stand apart.”