Berlin, 1943: A headstrong, sassy young Jewish woman, Felice (Maria Schrader), is working for the underground resistance movement while boldly earning a living working for a Nazi newspaper. Through a friend, she meets and becomes smitten with a mother of four, Lily (Juliane Köhler), a model hausfrau who just happens to be married to a German Nazi soldier who is away on the front line. They begin an emotional affair, living for the moment, under the shadow of collapsing Berlin and the last round-ups of the remaining hiding Jews in Germany. Given the circumstances, it is not surprising that the story leads to tragedy.
The two leads, Schrader and Köhler are excellent, and shared the Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival for their roles. Schrader’s Felice is saucy and bold, she gets what she wants, whether she is seducing a lover, or crashing Nazi cocktail parties for free drinks and entertainment. Köhler’s Lily may at first seem sheltered and naïve (she resembles a sweeter, younger Mia Farrow), but she slowly blossoms around the vibrancy of Felice and her hipster lesbian Jewish friends. It is really quite something to see what these women got away with right under the noses of the Nazis, and the fact that it is all true makes it all the more intriguing.
Aimée & Jaguar (which were the pet names of the two lovers) is a fascinating film. Not your typical “life during the war” film, it focuses on a smaller, more personal level. The war serves merely as a backdrop, almost as an afterthought, which makes the tragic ending all the more jarring. It touches upon a part of history that has already been much-filmed, but from a new, fresh angle. The cinematography is beautiful, the actresses are beautiful, and the story is moving. Recommended for fans of history films and romances.