The Exception (2016)


Cast includes: Christopher Plummer (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Jai Courtney (Divergent), Lily James (Downton Abbey), Janet McTeer (Sense & Sensibility), Mark Dexter (The Invisible Woman), Anton Lesser (Miss Potter)
Writers: Simon Burke (Persuasion), based on “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss” by Alan Judd
Director: David Leveaux (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead)
Genre: Drama | Romance | War | Thriller (107 minutes)


Huffington Post

When Captain Brandt wakes from a nightmare, she is already dressed and slipping out of the hotel room. He’d like to see her again, but that’s not likely. His next assignment is in Holland… as Kaiser Wilhelm’s personal security officer… not normally an assignment for a Captain. But after that business in Poland, Brandt is lucky he wasn’t executed. However, if anything happens to Wilhelm, SS officer Dietrich will personally shoot him… and likely enjoy it. Even though the Kaiser has been living in exile since the end of the Great War, he still has hopes of returning to Berlin as the German leader. These days he closely follows the war news, moving pieces on his tabletop map. He believes Hitler is getting over extended and asks the new maid, Mieke, if she thinks invading Holland was smart. Much to his surprise, Mieke thinks it was… “Holland’s very nice,” she says. “She’s the one my wife complains about,” Wilhelm notes. In truth, he’s never been able to resist the charms of a beautiful woman, and Mieke is both beautiful and charming.

“I’m delivering an invitation for dinner from the Kaiser,” says Mieke when Brandt opens his door. “Take your clothes off,” he answers. “Please,” he says as an afterthought. Brandt caresses her with his eyes before he takes her. The next day, Brandt learns from Dietrich that there’s a “British agent active in the area”… sending communications from somewhere in the village. They’re waiting for another signals tracker to pinpoint the location. It now makes sense for Brandt to move into the big house, which he does… anticipating closer proximity to Mieke. “Copulation is strictly forbidden among members of staff,” she warns… but she seems as willing as he is to discretely break the rules. In the meantime, it comes as no surprise to learn that Mieke is associated with the British spy, although we don’t know the details. One thing we do know is that the SS is getting closer to tracking down the signals… and the spies.

If things weren’t already tense enough… it seems that Hitler has taken an interest in the Kaiser and sent one of his top SS officers to meet with the old man. At this point, it’s still not known if the horror stories from the front are the exception or the rule. The SS officer confirms some of them with pride. Even in this idyllic setting, it’s not possible to escape the horror of it. For those who enjoy a tense, engaging WWII film, The Exception will give you your fix. WWII topics have been so thoroughly covered that it’s hard to believe there are new narratives, and it’s a pleasant surprise to find one of this caliber. The Exception is beautifully told and gripping to the end. Christopher Plummer is excellent as the forgotten former emperor. Downton Abbey fans will recognize Lily James, more beautiful than ever, as the undercover agent. Eventually, Captain Brandt discovers that Mieke is not as uncomplicated as she first appears. He doesn't care. “Don’t you care that one day you may have to?” “I don’t care that one day we may be dead.” Everyone has a duty to perform.

popcorn rating

4 popped kernels

A German army officer and a beautiful British spy serve the aging, exiled Kaiser Wilhelm

Popcorn Profile

Rated: R (Nudity, Violence, Sexual Content)
Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Limited Release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: High-End Production 
Nutshell: WWII spy thriller
Language: True to life

Social Significance: Thought Provoking

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