AimÉe & Jaguar

"OK"

AimÉe & Jaguar Review


Maybe I'm just thick, but the stirring and tragic lesbians-under-the-Third-Reich romantic tear-jerker "Aimée and Jaguar" seemed awfully vague to me about some important points.

For instance, it wasn't until I read the press kit that I realized one of the lovers -- pet name Jaguar, real name Felice, played by Maria Schrader -- was a part of the Jewish underground.

I knew she was Jewish, obviously. That's a large part of this based-on-fact film. It's clear that she's very secretive toward Aimée -- real name Lilly, played by Juliane Kohler -- the Nazi officer's housewife whom she befriended, seduced and fell in love with.

There's also no mistaking the fact that she sometimes disappears for days at a time. But the picture never makes mention of where she's going or what she's doing. Had I filled in that missing piece of the jigsaw, I think I might have been utterly absorbed by this elegant film, which paints a gorgeous bur harrowing portrait of the raw nerves of Berlin under siege in 1943 and the kind of passionate, we-could-die-tomorrow desire embraced with sensual abandon by these two women.

I'm telling you this, of course, because if you have this information going in, "Aimée and Jaguar" might be for you the experience I wish it had been for me.

Other than being frustratingly dodgy and mighty confusing, most everything about this picture is exquisite. In emotionally naked and courageous performances, Schrader plays Felice with a sexy, confident Marlene Dietrich flair, and Kohler portrays Lilly's seemingly model wife demeanor in a way that masks a sorrowing sexual neediness (although I personally found her flaky, unstable and borderline bipolar).

First-time director (and co-screenwriter) Max Farberbock immerses the audience in the peril of a defeated city stubbornly soldiering on amid continuous bombing raids, which are photographed against dramatically red, heavy skies, with the outlines of bombers looming in the flashes of anti-aircraft fire.

From the smallest costume details and the curtains in Lilly's apartment to the innumerable bombed-out, burning buildings lining grey, rubble-strewn streets (juxtaposed with the well-appointed hotels where the Nazi faithful partied in lavish denial) this movie captures war-torn Berlin as vividly as "Saving Private Ryan" captured the Normandy invasion.

But even when "Aimée and Jaguar" is at its most cinematically masterful, it's still plagued by narrative ambiguities. Why is the voice-over delivered by a peripheral character? It leads one to believe she's more significant to the story than she is. Why is it never clear if Felice's saphic sorority of friends are all Jews as well or just lesbians? It's even less clear, until what is obviously a first kiss, whether or not Felice and Lilly are already lovers early in the film -- a quandary that is complicated by Lilly's frequent male lovers and by her indifference to her husband's philandering.

I wished I could have read a dossier on each of these women before the film so I could have filled in the blanks Farberbock seems to willfully ignore.

But I was so lost for so much of this movie that I can't help wondering if most of it just went over my head.

The things I understood -- that Felice's group of girlfriends was in great danger and trying to buy papers to get out of the country, that she kept her ethnicity hidden in order to hold on to a job as a secretary to a well-connected Nazi newspaper publisher -- I found utterly engrossing. There is one devastating scene in which she tries to contain her emotions while taking dictation for a scathing anti-Semitic editorial.

Yet I never caught on that she was anything more than a Jewess trying to hide her identity to avoid being herded into a ghetto, a box car, then a concentration camp.

I actively tried to get swept away by "Aimée and Jaguar" because it was so artful, so realistic and so intense. But I was so busy trying to figure out what the hell was going on that there was just no way I was going to enjoy it.

Maybe it's a sadly flawed near miss. Maybe is a great film and I'm a dummy. Maybe you should find out for yourself because I'm confused.

Where's a German- Jewish- lesbian- art- film- to- straight- Anglo- American- simpleton translation dictionary when you need one, huh?



Facts and Figures

Run time: 6 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 30th October 2001

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Felice " Jaguar " Schragenheim, as Lilly " Aimee " Wüst, as Ilse, as Klärchen, as Lotte, as Günter Wüst, as Lilly Wüst im Jahre 1997, as Ilse im Jahre 1997, as Chefredakteur Keller, as Blonde Dame, Dani Levy as Fritz Borchert, as Eckert

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.