Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

What would have happened if the Allied landings on D-Day had failed and World War Two had swung in favour of the Germans? This is one of the most frequently visited scenarios in the alternate history genre, so it's a relief to see Resistance eschew the conventional approach. This isn't about strategy, negotiation or politics; there isn't much espionage; and there's very little actual fighting (at least with guns). In fact, all the menfolk of the village where it's set have vanished when it opens. That's how the women discover that enemy soldiers are on their way.

In rural Wales, where the weather can be harsh and the living hard, it's tough for a woman on her own to get by. A lot of physical strength is needed to care for farm animals, repair and maintain buildings, dig troughs and chop wood. The women do their best, and the occupying soldiers do their best to stand back. These are not the cartoon Germans we see in so many British films. They don't have much sympathy for the Nazi hierarchy. They are just men, weary of war and far from home. Just as the women of the village have practical needs, they have emotional ones.

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So it is that their captain, Albrecht (Tom Wlaschiha), hatches a plan to keep them in the village, to lie to his superiors, to try and keep his men safe until the war is over. But there is no way, in war, to keep one's hands completely clean. And it's hard to remain aware that the co-operative relationship which develops between these two groups can only ever be a fantasy of normal life. To complicate things further, Albrecht finds himself falling in love with strong willed farmer's wife Sarah (Andrea Riseborough). He finds a brief idyll in the valley, but the shadow of the mountains is always there.

Based on the popular novel of the same name, Resistance is a simple tale not really big enough to fill an hour and a half, despite the sullen beauty of the landscape. It's elevated by some fine performances, particularly from Sharon Morgan as elderly matriarch Maggie, but it never quite manages to achieve the atmosphere it strives for. Wlaschiha is likeable but not really charismatic enough in the lead. It's Riseborough who carries it, and on whose carefully judged performance its emotional twists and turns depend. In the end, what it has to say about love is a little different from what viewers might expect. What it says about war is more conventional but thoughtfully delivered.

An old fashioned film, beautifully photographed, Resistance is one for the drama fans, not the war movie enthusiasts. It's a flawed gem that still sparkles if looked at in the right light.

Reviewed on: 22 Nov 2011
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An alternate history story in which German soldiers occupy a Welsh village during World War Two.
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Director: Amit Gupta

Writer: Owen Sheers

Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wlaschiha, Sharon Morgan, Alexander Doetsch, Anatole Taubman, Iwan Rheon

Year: 2011

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: UK, Germany


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