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Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Aimee and Jaguar": Film Review

"Aimee and Jaguar" depicts a Lesbian Jew living in WW II Germany who falls in love with an ostensibly straight Nazi. What an exciting premise! I was so let down. There was all this capital S !Stuff! up on the screen that I was supposed to have been moved by. I was less moved while watching this histrionic opera than while watching many a low-key documentary.

An example: the scene where Lilly, the German Nazi, and Felice, the Jewish Lesbian, first make love. Lilly kept shaking. She's very pale (Aryan, doncha know). And watching her shake and shake and shake and shake in a way meant to be erotic, and watching her pale, waxy skin, all I kept thinking was, "Geez, she looks like someone in the final phase of malaria."

There were naked and shadowed unmentionable gynecological bits in that scene, and lots of highly charged social/erotic elements, and it carried zero erotic charge, for me.

The movie was too long. It added a pre-plot intro and a post-plot coda that offered nothing. Scenes went on too long. I found myself counting the breaths between lines, the number of times people repeated the same sentence over and over.

The movie works to make Lilly a slob and a hoyden. Lilly meets one of her lovers while wearing stockings and wool socks and a sloppy slip – but the movie makes the point that even homeless Jewish Lesbians can look soignee in wartime Berlin. Lilly yells at her kids; she sleeps around. She isn't very bright. She isn't especially pretty, either. Okay, so ... why did Felice risk her life to connect with this Nazi? Just for her blonde, Aryan locks? For the cheap thrill? No, the movie wants this to be a BIG love story, a Scarlett and Rhett of Nazism. Um, nope.

The movie works really hard not to let the viewer know exactly what's going on. I didn't find this thrilling. I didn't feel, "Gee, I'd better figure this out fast," I found it boring and alienating. I didn't feel that underneath the movie's surface confusion and incomprehensibility – "Why is she pushing her away? Who is this character? Why doesn't he suspect Felice's true identity?" – that there was a comprehensible and full world I just needed to get to know. Rather, I felt that the movie's incomprehensibility was a sloppy, amateurish effort to be casual, while not really creating a coherent world. I just found it to be a very amateurish, utterly cold, badly put together movie. and that is such a shame. This could have been big.

I can't help but think of – go ahead, hate me – Steven Spielberg. Spielberg knows how to use a camera to communicate humanity, while handling similarly huge, titillating themes against big historical backdrops. The brief scene in which Robert Shaw in "Jaws" talks about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, or Tom Hanks talking about being a teacher in "Saving Private Ryan" convey more humanity than Lilly does during the entire movie.

"Aimee and Jaguar" is full of scenes of Aktors Akting as if they are Brave or full of Joi de Vivre or Deeply In Love but I didn't see a single human being brave or expressing joi de vivre or loving.

There was one scene of "Aimee and Jaguar" that worked wonderfully for me. A Jewish Lesbian has been homeless and hungry. She goes to a Nazi club and begins to wash her undies out in the sink of the Ladies' Room, while complaining about sleeping in public buildings. A Nazi matron comes in and, contemptuously, sells ration coupons to the Jewish woman. The Nazi matron only saw the Jew to the extent that she could profit by selling a coupla ration coupons. Nazi Germany does have its parallels to contemporary life.

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