Film, History

Film: Army of Crime

March 6, 2011

The French film Army of Crime (2009) is an effective WWII historical examining a faction of the French Resistance that was composed largely of immigrants from Eastern Europe.  At the center of the group are Armenian poet Missak Manouchian (Simon Abkarian) and his wife Mélinée (Virginie Ledoyen).  The group, in the wake of Germany’s invasion of Russia, embarks on a series of daring attacks against Germany’s occupying forces — risking their lives and families to strike back at the Nazis’ increasingly brutal treatment of Jews and politicals.

Like many films based on true events, Army of Crime isn’t the most structurally satisfying of movies, but it does convincingly depict the era, and the impossible decisions faced by those living under a murderous fascist regime.  Its general subject matter and mixed, international cast of characters brought to mind for me the novels of Alan Furst.  While the film possesses a unique focus on immigrant members of the Resistance, it will probably feel familiar — in tone and general arc — to anyone who’s seen similar movies about clandestine resistance operations against the Nazis.  As such, it didn’t quite strike me as an outstanding example, but it’s certainly an earnest and well made one.

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