Defiance

Will there be a special Academy Award for Best Aryan Costume Design this year? Every­where you turn in the movies, it’s swastika flags and SS uniforms. But where are all the Jewish victims? The nearest thing to a traditional Holocaust movie is Edward Zwick’s Defiance, about three Jewish brothers who put together a Jewish kibbutz in a Belarus forest, the better to survive the war and knock off Nazis and their Russian collaborators. This fact-based story may look like a Holocaust movie, but it’s really an inquiry into the different management styles of the Yiddish super­hero, no victim he. Daniel Craig stars in the “Do I have to?” Gary Cooper role. Liev Schreiber is the belligerent bro who would like to see a little less agonizing and a lot more payback. And Jamie Bell is the peacemaking youngest brother. While Craig rides around on a white horse, mulling whether to kill it for food, Schreiber splits off and joins the partisans for some real action, only to learn the hard way that Russians are not much keener on Jews than Germans are. There are subtitles and vaguely East European accents; there is romance and rebirth, tears and regular pauses for gallows humor: “Eez khard to be friend of Jew,” sighs a Righteous Gentile. “Try being one,” the Jew replies.

Categories: Movies