Aimée et Jaguar (IFC)Thursday 25 Oct 2001
Duration: 0 minutes
Directed by Max Färberböck starring Juliane Köhler and Maria Schrader.
Based on Erica Fischer's 1994 bestseller, 'Aimee & Jaguar' tells the true story of the love between a mother of four and a young Jewish girl working for the resistance in wartime Berlin. With her husband at the front and her city levelled on a nightly basis, Lilly Wust (Köhler) seeks affection in the arms of other soldiers - her life a constant search for the person she believes will be her soul mate. Across the city, Felice Schragenheim (Schrader) a resistance operative has managed to obtain a job with a Nazi newspaper and uses her position to help evacuate other Jews and obtain information for the Allies.
Felice's girlfriend Illse is the nanny in the Wust home and a chance encounter with the woman of the house leads Felice to become fascinated with Lilly. She writes her a letter and, convinced it's from an officer, Lilly waits for a lover that never arrives. But Felice refuses to let things end in writing and Illse casts to one side as she embarks on a journey to woo Lilly - a journey that will see them become Aimée and Jaguar and unite in love and tragedy.
Theatre director Max Färberböck could hardly have picked a more intense and heartbreaking story for his cinema debut but he has managed to create a world which makes you want to dive straight into the pages of Erica Fischer's book to learn more about Lilly and Felice. Delicately paced, he captures an eerie Berlin of 1943 where anything goes, showing both the drudgery of life during wartime and people's attempts to blot it out with drink, drugs and one night stands.
The camerawork is superb and as gray daylight mixes with yellow interiors, you never feel that you are anywhere but among the ruins. Against this backdrop Färberböck constructs the love between Lilly and Felice, drawing out some scenes to show the distance one must travel to accept the other and speeding up some exchanges to show how desperate people are to find happiness.
Köhler as Lilly conveys both confusion and enchantment in every scene while Schrader shows the danger and sadness which Felice must face on a daily basis. Halfway through any preconceptions you have about their relationship have disappeared as you become a co-conspirator - the outcome all the more heartbreaking because it is true.
An usual and deeply moving film and one which reminds us that love and heroism can occur in the most unlikely of circumstances.