R | 1h 47min | Drama, Romance, War | 2 June 2017 (USA)
Opening Friday June 30 at Angelika Film Center
Synopsis: A riveting World War II thriller that is filled with espionage and romance in equal measure, The Exception follows German soldier Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney) as he goes on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer). The Kaiser lives in a secluded mansion in The Netherlands, and as Germany is taking over Holland, the country’s authorities are concerned that Dutch spies may be watching the Kaiser. As Brandt begins to infiltrate the Kaiser’s life in search of clues, he finds himself drawn into an unexpected and passionate romance with Mieke (Lily James), one of the Kaiser’s maids whom Brandt soon discovers is secretly Jewish.
Review: World War II thrillers are a dime a dozen so it may be a tad hard to get up for this one. In fact without the cast and the fact it is from the A24 studio I may have passed on it all together. I am glad I gave it a shot. It is far from a perfect film and at times is very genre driven. But the story line has elements that are captivating and the cast do a solid job of bringing thrilling tension to each scene. If the words war and romance tingle your spidey senses then by all means check it out. (more review below)
The film is more or less fictional which allows the writers to create whatever story they want. Here they take the non fictional German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer) and build an intriguing “what if” scenario around him. Not a bad idea. Where the story strays is in trying to do too much. It feels stretched thin at times and we never get to look as deep into the characters as we would like. The main focus of course is on the relationship between a house maid (Lily James) and the German soldier (Jai Courtney) sent to watch over the Kaiser. Their story arc is the highlight of the film and the main saving grace.
The movie is shot well and looks great. Portions were filmed at the real house of the kaiser at Huize Doorn which adds to the splendor. It has a vintage feel meaning that the costumes, props and demeanor all feel true to the period. If you enjoy historical dramas – even those that take liberties – you will also be fond of this one. I always recomend seeing films in the theater but with the price of tickets you might wait for this one to surface on VOD or Bu-ray. But jsut don’t forget about it!
THE EXCEPTION is rated R for sexuality, graphic nudity, language and brief violence. It is an adult drama in every sense of the meaning. Nothing is gratuitous of salacious. The sex and nudity are artistic and both genders are represented (hence the graphic nudity). Those scenes are brief so feel free to rustle through your popcorn for a few seconds until they are over if need be. I give it 3.5 out of 5 discrete rendezvous. Far better than I expected with acting I anticipated.