Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Aimée & Jaguar

(Germany, 1999)

In 1943 in Berlin, there was apparently an underground resistance of Jewish lesbians … I know it sounds unlikely, but this story was based on an autobiographical book that was a major bestseller in Germany. This is the third German film about the war we’ve seen recently, after the rather odd Rosenstrasse and the critically acclaimed Downfall, which dealt with Hitler‘s last days in the bunker. Those two films each have one of the stars of this one; Juliane Köhler plays Eva Braun in the latter, and Jaguar in this one. The other star is the radiantly beautiful Maria Schrader. Schrader is a lesbian and a Jew, Köhler is the mother of four, married to a German soldier at the Eastern Front who somehow manages to get leave and pop up in Berlin at inconvenient times. They fall in love. With a WWII movie, you always find yourself noting the date, knowing what is coming up. When the radio announces Hitler is dead, you know it’s 1944 and it’s a false report. When someone says the war will be lost in 5 weeks, you know it still has 11 months to drag on. You know Berlin is in for a much worse pasting than it’s already getting. And … truth or fiction, you know it will end badly. This takes something away from the story for me. The only question is how and when the Jewish girl will be shuffled off to a concentration camp. The movie is well done and acted wonderfully, but I can’t say I liked it very much.

What I did like, a lot, was Maria Schrader. She writes screenplays and directs as well, and maybe she doesn’t speak English, because all her credits are in German films. But if she ever wants to come to Hollywood she could have them eating out of her hand She is as appealing as Audrey Tautou, without the little-girl innocence, and our little Audrey has landed the plum role of the decade, alongside Tom Hanks in the mega-bestseller The Da Vinci Code. I think Schrader could easily do as well.