Resistance

Amit Gupta’s Resistance, an adaptation of a novel by poet Owen Sheers, is set in a remote Welsh farming community during an alternative version of the 1940s in which the Germans have mounted a successful invasion of Great Britain and are starting to mop up the more peripheral settlements. One day the women of the village wake up to find that all the menfolk have abruptly vanished, presumably to join the titular resistance movement. They react to this with sanguinity, but shortly afterwards a small group of German soldiers arrive and take up residence while they search for a valuable artefact believed to be in the area and their commander’s surprisingly civilised and sympathetic manner starts to put a strain on the loyalties of a number of them.

This may be the quietest, least overtly confrontational, war film I’ve ever seen, although there are enough moments of brutality both off and on screen to sell the seriousness of the situation. The subtle and shifting relationships between the different parties are for the most part presented in a restrained and neutral manner, with no background music, close-ups or flashy editing to elicit a cheap emotional response. That’s not to say there’s no conflict here though: several of the characters find themselves facing profound moral tests, and they don’t want always make the choices one might expect. This is a film that requires close attention and doesn’t deliver easy resolutions but it’s never annoyingly obscure or arty. It’s certainly worth watching just for the beautiful landscapes and farmhouses and for two excellent and unshowy performances from Andrea Riseborough and Tom Wlaschiha, as well as a strong supporting turn from Michael Sheen, who seems to have to appear in every British film by law at the minute.

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