The stories from WWII are limitless and screenwriter Simon Burke brings Alan Judd’s novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss” to life in “The Exception,” starring Lily James, Jai Courtney, and Christopher Plummer. As Capt. Stefan Brandt (Courtney), a young and rebellious German soldier, is assigned to protect Kaiser Wilhelm (Plummer), he meets and falls in love with a woman who may be a Dutch spy. It’s a classic love story which pits a man’s love for a woman against his loyalty to his country. His decisions are never easy, keeping you on the edge of your seat awaiting the story’s end.
“The Exception” brings us into the world of war seen from a different perspective, giving humanity and insight to characters previously only known in clear black and white viewpoints. While the story is fictional, the realistic components are beautifully portrayed in both the situations and real characters. The unexpected love story between Brandt and Mieke (James) creates an unorthodox encounter in the beginning. As the connection intensifies, the two expose themselves for who they really are, to not only one another, but also to Wilhelm. Trust and loyalty are in opposition and only then do we really understand these complexly beautiful characters.
Plummer, although being type-cast in his later years, is exquisite in this role. Giving a deeply thoughtful performance, we understand his character’s background and grow to truly care about “Wilhelm.” He’s filled with regrets, longs for more, yet understand his part in life. His interaction with “Meika” is genuine and sweet, yet cautious. Courtney’s character is initially unlikeable, but he allows “Brandt” to grow, shedding the layers to reveal a conflicted yet caring young man. James shines in her role creating a strong yet shattered woman who fears for her life and seeks revenge. Eddie Marsan has a small, yet vital role as the visiting “Heinrich Himmler” and it is his chilling and menacing performance that gives greater credibility to the story.
Directed by David Leveaux, “The Exception” skillfully weaves together truth and fiction to give us a gripping love story filled with mystery and intrigue. Emotional components within these aspects provide the background stories that complete each character, allowing us to know who they truly are. It’s a finely tuned romantic thriller that transports you back in time through cinematic genius, a rich story, and stellar performances.
You can see “The Exception” on VOD (Video On Demand) on Amazon. Go to Amazon