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PUT ON A HAPPY FACE: Behind the camera Aimee and Jaguar battle love and persecution in Nazi Gernany.
Zeitgeist Films

Reality crashes in Nazi Germany

Festival film pits Jewish and German lesbians against the Gestapo

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When Bruce Cockburn sang about "lovers in a dangerous time," he probably didn't quite have this in mind. Sure, the lead characters in Aimee and Jaguar are lovers, and they live in 1944 Berlin--certainly a perilous place and time. However, the couple in this true story take it a step further than just dangerous; their love is suicidal.

Aimee and Jaguar are the respective nicknames of Lilly and Felice. Lilly is the perky, cheating wife of a Nazi soldier, raising four young children. Felice, unbeknownst to Lilly, is a member of the Jewish underground. And if there's anything more deadly than being Jewish during Nazi Germany, it's being a Jewish lesbian in love with a Nazi.

When Lilly and Felice first meet, Lilly is sleeping with Nazi soldiers--none of whom are her husband--while Felice is methodically planning her escape. However, after quickly falling in love, they are discovered first by Lilly's husband, then by the Gestapo and separated forever.

This is initially very frustrating. While both women seem to have decent survival skills, they prove to be rather dumb and naive. Had Felice left the country, they could have met up after the war and lived long happy lives together. If Lilly had half a brain, she never would have been so open about the relationship, and would not have let her husband find out about the affair.

Unfortunately without the benefit of hindsight, the couple makes many mistakes. But, unlike most movie romances, this movie sticks to the truth. There is no nostalgic reminiscing set to cheesy music. Love doesn't always work out, just because it's love. Love may overcome many things like differences in beliefs, religion and background, but it can't necessarily survive a war.

That's not the only troublesome part of this movie. At first, the idea that Lilly switches sides so easily is a little frustrating.Apparently, all it took was the right woman, Felice, to make her forget men in favour of female companionship. But then, in the same scene where Felice announces she is Jewish, Lilly explains that she never felt quite right, that she was always waiting for a different kind of love to come around. She never found real love with any of her many men, but did with Felice.

Even the filming reflects the exasperating reality. Long pauses in scenes slow the pace to a crawl. Again, it's annoying, but accurately portrays the events that occured. Life isn't efficient, why should a film about real life be?

While frustrating, the realism is what makes Aimee and Jaguar worth watching. The audience's enjoyment in viewing Aimee and Jaguar is traded for a truthful story. It's easy to believe this is exactly what happened to Lilly and Felice. The characters aren't perfect; they make mistakes. But they're believable, identifiable and worth a look.

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