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There does exist an expression in the German language that describes
this movie perfectly. It's "großes Kino". Literally translated it means
"big cinema" and you use it for movies that are really grand: Grand in
their structure, grand in emotion and grand in class. If any movie
deserves this title then it's this one.
The Plot: Berlin during WWII. We get an insight in the daily life of two complete different women who don't know each other. Lilly is young, married with four kids and because of this can afford a quite pleasant life (as Hitler was fond of mothers with many kids, they got more of everything than other families: more money, more food etc.). So while her husband is somewhere out there fighting the enemy, Lilly occasionally has affairs and while she has her fun with the men, a nanny is taking care of the kids. The other woman, also being quite young, is Felice. Felice is Jewish, works as a journalist for a newspaper and unlike Lilly has to daily cope with the fear of being discovered and transported to a KZ. As if it all were not enough, Felice is lesbian and enjoys life as much as possible in the circle of her (mostly lesbian) friends. Now, one day, Felice by chance sees Lilly in a theatre and almost instantly falls for her. Surprisingly enough Lilly loves her back and they begin an irresistible and passionate affair, which at the time and circumstances back there was like dancing on a volcano
Of course the film deals with WWII and the holocaust here but the best thing about it is that it's only done on the side. The plot concentrates on the two women, the two different worlds they live in and their feelings towards each other. It's all so intensive and it's not all about two suffering girls who lived in a horrible time and were not allowed to love each other, it's about two strong women with a lust for life who tried not to care too much about the Nazi regime, but to concentrate on seizing the day. After watching it you don't only feel for them, you admire them for having been so strong and courageous. But most of all you get to appreciate love and life again.
A truly great film about a great love in times where this love seemed to be impossible. Based on true events.
I wasn't expecting much from "Aimee and Jaguar," mainly because my
delivery company gave it a rating of only two stars out of four, usually
reserved for semi-junk like Batman sequels. But that rating was
low. This is a well-done and even fascinating flick. There are three
reasons for my saying this.
First is the reconstruction of the period -- 1944 in Berlin. By that time the war was lost for Germany and everyone seemed to know it except the German citizens. Voices on the radio keep muttering on about how unconquerable the Germans are, but evidence to the contrary is all around. Berlin is bombed and blasted, areas reduced to piles of flaming rubbish. Food is difficult to come by. There is gaiety at parties but it is tense and forced. People have no place to live, except for whatever few feet they can cadge off someone else or pay exorbitantly for. For the few Jews, blending in with the rest, the situation is more than simply desperate. Asked for their papers on the street they try to run and are shot dead. But there isn't anything in the way of self pity here. These women -- they seem to be exclusively females -- are pretty tough and pragmatic cookies. They dance, when they must, with power brokers while the band performs bravely on stage or a samba plays on a scratchy old record. (The prop master deserved an Iron Cross.) Makeup is outstanding as well. Hair is marcelled to a turn, lips are blushed, eyes are heavily kohled. I know I'm getting these words all wrong but you know what I mean. The perfomers don't look as if they were in contemporary makeup and garb with merely a nod to period fashions. The authenticity is such that they look almost alien to our eyes. Gee, and it was only fifty years ago too. Where does the time go?
Second, there is the acting. Well, in a word, it's simply fine, all around. Felice is a beautiful, dark-haired young Jewish woman. Actually, she fits a common German physical template very well, with her thin upturned nose, pointed chin, wide-set glistening eyes, and a pair of those eyebrows that seem to arch up onto the owner's forehead like V-2 rockets instead of hovering placidly over her orbital sockets where they belong. For an unusually good example of what I mean, take a look at Jon Voight's girl friend in "The Odessa File." Felice's German appearance however doesn't detract from the character's believability. German Jews by that time were pretty well assimilated, biologically and culturally, one of the reasons their attempted extermination came as such a shock to them, and to everyone else. Felice is surrounded by friends who seem to be mainly lesbians, as carefree as the real circumstances permit. Lilly Wust, the woman Felice meets and begins by exploiting, is an equally fine actress. In fact, she really is very good, with her reticence and her frozen empty smile. Lilly is married, but her husband is away at the front most of the time, and she is almost crushed by fear and loneliness. At first, when Felice comes on to her, after their friendship has matured, she beats frantically at Felice's face and chest. Later, yielding to her needs, Lilly goes to bed with Felice, who makes gentle love to her and suggests that Lilly be "Aimee" while she, Felice, be called "Jaguar." I must say that this scene, which is no more erotic than it should be, is a tour de force on the part of the actress playing Lilly. I've rarely seen such a complex of emotions -- fright, awe, sexual desire, loneliness, and love -- projected with such impact. Lilly trembles all over in a kind of Jungian flooding out until, her instinctive repressions overcome, she grasps Felice and buries her face against her breasts. Lilly's husband, Gunter, is a reasonably nice guy too. He comes home to visit his wife and children at every opportunity, even taking French leave from his unit to help Lilly celebrate her birthday. Alas he stumbles into the aftermath of a homosexual debauch.
The third element of this film that I find so impressive is the story itself, which I've kind of limned in above and won't go into in any detail. Let's just say that it has everything in it that you might expect in a movie designed for grown-ups. I can imagine a group of teenagers sitting around with popcorn and beer and complaining that, "Hey, this thing has SUBTITLES." And "Why can't we see more of her boobs?" (I kind of sympathize, there.) And, "Why does she get shot offscreen so we can't see her brains blown out?" I don't think they'd get through the first five minutes, let alone the whole movie, but if you do, you will find your efforts rewarded.
In Berlin, along the Second World War, Felice Schragenheim (Maria
Schrader) is a bright Jewish lesbian working in a Nazi newspaper under
a false identity and being member of a resistance organization. Lilly
Wust (Juliane Köhler) is a woman married with the soldier Günther Wust
(Detlev Buck), who is fighting in the German front. Lilly is mother of
four children and has never found love, being unfaithful to her
husband. Felice meets Lilly and they fall in love for each other,
adopting the nickname of Jaguar (Felice) and Aimée (Lilly),
jeopardizing the safety of Felicia. This true unconventional and
sensitive love story, in a sad period of German history, is a wonderful
movie. The reconstitution of the Berlin in the war period is amazing.
The performance of the cast is stunning, and the direction is
outstanding. Although dealing with lesbian love, this powerful,
unforgettable and touching romance is one of the most beautiful film I
have recently seen. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): 'Aimée & Jaguar'
The setting is Berlin during the last days of World War II. Aimée and
Jaguar are nicknames for two women. Jaguar, or Felice Schragenheim, is
played by Maria Schrader, a painfully slender, winsome, enigmatic, and
devastatingly beautiful actress whose character rolls through this
story like a loose cannon. She is well matched by Aimée, or Lilly Wust,
played by Juliane Köhler, attractive but older, by turns lustful and
To survive in difficult times, young Felice poses for nude photos, works in a newspaper office, and gives dance lessons. Lilly is a housewife, mother of four small children, and her husband is at the eastern front. She entertains single men while her children go to the zoo "again?" Felice conceives a passion for Lilly from afar and writes her a romantic letter, signed "Jaguar."
I don't want to spoil the story, so I will say no more about it. This is a frankly sexy, exceedingly passionate movie based on a true story. The acting is spectacular, the recreation of time and place is convincing enough, and the music and photography are exemplary. In German with English subtitles. Highest recommendation.
In a few scenes, especially during the first hour, I had the impression that I was getting the text of what was being said, but was missing the subtext--i.e., what was really going on. I plan to watch it again before sending it back to Netflix, something I've not done previously (though I came close with High Noon). If you suspect that I conceived a passion for Felice from afar, you'd be right; you might, too, if you see this movie. But see it also because it's simply excellent from beginning to end.
This wonderful German production, based on fact, tells the story of a
lesbian love affair at the height of the war in Berlin, between a Jewish
woman concealing her identity from the authorities and a loyal German
of four whose husband is serving in the army. But the film is exceptional
not just for its frankness in presenting the passionate relationship, but
for its portrayal of Berliners trying to lead ordinary lives, while their
city is under heavy bombardment and is being destroyed before their eyes.
And this near-normal background throws into sharp relief the ghastly horror
of the Nazi regime, its vain pursuit of total victory, and its fanatical
hatred and persecution of Jews.
The acting of principals Maria Schrader as Felice Schragenheim (Jaguar) and Juliane Köhler as Lilly Wust (Aimée) has an integrity and intensity which has almost disappeared from Hollywood, but it never lapses into melodrama. Outstanding in the large supporting cast are Johanna Wokalek as Ilse, a rival with Aimée for Jaguar's love; and Detlev Buck as Aimée's husband, Günther, who manages to elicit our sympathy for his personal predicament, while repelling us with his Nazi arrogance and cloddishness.
A notable feature of the movie is that it reminds us that, like London and Paris, wartime Berlin still had a thriving nightlife, with Beethoven concerts, well dressed women and officers drinking in luxury hotel lounges, and smart receptions. Jaguar and her friends also represent a bohemian fringe of society, dating back to the Weimar period of the 20s and early 30s, that had not been extinguished by the Nazis. These scenes give the film colour and style, features sometimes missing from movies set in time of war.
This is one of those very rare movies in which not only every element - scenario, acting, camerawork, effects, interior and exterior locations, music etc - is almost perfect in itself, but in which they add up to a true work of art. If you have a chance, see it!
I just returned from watching "Aimée und Jaguar" on its U.S. opening night, and am completely floored! This film is an intense, deeply moving, and extremely heart-wrenching depiction that will leave you reeling. Set in Nazi Germany (in Berlin), the stories tells the the unusual love story between a Nazi housewife (Aimée) and a Jewish underground female activist (Jaguar). Though the unforgettable passion comes through loud and clear the first time around, you can watch this film again and again, discovering something new every time. Brilliant acting on the part of Maria Schrader (Jaguar) and Juliane Köhler (Aimée)...truly genius performances. I LOVED this film, have got the book already and can't wait to own it on DVD. Definitely recommend it.
This is a beautiful story and a haunting film, set in crumbling Berlin
near the end of Germany's second run at world domination. Felice
is a young stenographer hiding her Jewish identity and passing
stealthily through bombed-out Berlin. She runs with a pack of
party-girls, lesbians all, who butterfly their nights away living for the
moment in the face of destruction, persecution, and death.
Lilly is a German housewife with four children and a husband on the Russian front. She is introduced, however, as a mistress to a Nazi officer, and the viewer sees immediately that Lilly is simply lost...dutifully serving out her role(s) to the men in her life, yet stricken with a suspicion that love has escaped her.
Then she meets Felice...
The affair transforms both women. Lilly finds love and discovers who she really is, while Felice finds a reason to stop running.
It's easy to forget that bravery in wartime is not reserved solely fo combat soldiers. In these two women, we see courage, hope, and beauty emerge from ruin and desperation. As one of the minor characters points out late in the film, love should be appreciated wherever it can take root---especially when times and situations seem impossibly chaotic.
This director offers an underlying gentleness that makes the movie all the more effective. The performances are passionate and inspired. War news via radio broadcasts is masterfully woven in to frame the film while giving the viewer a sense that time is running out in Berlin. One knock on the film might be that there are too few sympathetic male characters. But, given the setting, maybe that was to be expected.
Lilly, a mother-of-4, disappointed by her unfaithful huband is eagerly looking for love. - In a war-time Berlin where insanity rules: a murderous Nazi-dictatorship leaving no space for freedom, constant allied bomb attacks destroying and killing. She finally finds love in Felice (brilliant: Maria Schrader), a Jewish girl, part of the Berlin Lesbian scene. Lilly breaks with her husband, despite (or because?) of all the terror around they are having an intense love affair until finally the terror proves to be stronger... All this sounds very made-up but it is a true story. Lilly is still living in Berlin having stayed alone since then. And all this sounds like a kitschy and schmaltzy movie, but thanks to the fact that it is not a Hollywood production it isn't. Much more it is overwhelming and always stays near-to-life. A movie about the huming being's will to be happy despite all insanity. Absolutely recommended!
Awesome acting job, awesome directing job, awesome script-everything about
this movie is awesome! Jaguar's character is a combination of Buffy, Xena,
and Winston Churchill. By day, she's Felice Schragenheim, the docile,
writer for a Nazi newspaper. By night, she's Jaguar, the assertive,
insurrectionist fighter for the German Resistence.
The movie also does a great job of portraying lesbian love as just as valid and intimate as heterosexual love. Aimee and Jaguar cultivate a loving, compassionate, loyal relationship. Whether or not it is recognized by religion or government, Aimee and Jaguar are married. They even raise children together. I hope this movie will divulge Jaguar's prowess and humanity and stimulate curiosity about this great woman.
"Aimee and Jaguar" tells of the love which blossoms between two women, one married with four children and one a Jewess, in 1943/44 Berlin. Beautifully filmed and character-driven with splendid directing and superb performances, there's little to fault in this film as two women cleave to one another under the pall of war, the terror of bombing, and the absence of men. The only liability "A&J" has is the subject may not whet the interest of many.
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