“The Exception” may not be historically factual, there are elements in the film that help keep you captivated. With a wonderful performance by Christopher Plummer and a fascinating blend of espionage and romance, Vaid Leveaux’s “The Exception” is a film worth watching.
TITLE: The Exception
FILM RELEASE: 2017
DURATION: 107 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:39:1 aspect ratio, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: Spanish, English SDH
COMPANY: Lions Gate
RELEASE DATE: August 8, 2017
Based on the Novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss” by Alan Judd
Directed by David Leveaux
Screenplay by Simon Burke
Produced by Eugenio Derbez, Ben Odell
Executive Producer: Mike Upton
Associate Producer: Erica Oyama
Cinematography by John Bailey
Edited by John Daigle
Casting by Deborah Aquila, Tricia Wood, Lisa Zagoria
Production Design by Marcia Hinds
Art Direction by Alex Gaines, Thomas P. Wilkins
Set Decoration by Cindy Coburn
Costume Design by Molly Grundman
Jai Courtney as Capt. Stefan Brandt
Lily James as Mieke de Jong
Christopher Plummer as Kaiser Wilhelm II
Anton Lesser as General Falkenberg
Janet McTeer as Princess Hermine
Ben Daniels as Col. Sigurd von Ilsemann
Martin Swabey as Mueller
Mark Dexter as Dietrich
Eddie Marsan as Heinrich Himmler
Starring Oscar®-winner Christopher Plummer, THE EXCEPTION is a suspenseful World War II thriller filled with espionage and romance in equal measure.
In 2003, Alan Judd wrote the novel “The Kaiser’s Last Kiss”, a fictional account of the last few days in the life of exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (the last German Emperor and King of Prussia who ruled the German Empire and the Kingdom of Pruss from 1888-1918).
The film adaptation of the book was released in 2016 and is directed by David Leveaux and a screenplay by Simon Burke (“Persuasion”, “NY-LON”, “The Guilty”).
The film stars Jai Courtney (“Divergent”, “Insurgent”, “Terminator Genisys”), Lily James (“Cinderella”, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, “Wrath of the Titans”), Christopher Plummer (“A Beautiful Mind”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “The Sound of Music”), Anton Lesser (“Pirates of the Caribbean”, “The Girl in the Cafe”, “Game of Thrones”), Janet McTeer (“Tideland”, “Me Before You”, “Tumbleweeds”) and Eddie Marsan (“Sherlock Holmes”, “V For Vendetta”, “The Illusionist”).
The film is set during World War II and German soldier Stefan Brandt (portrayed by Jai Courtney) is sent to the Netherlands to become the head personal bodyguard of exiled German Emperor Wilhelm II (portrayed by Christopher Plummer).
The Kaiser lives in a castle and following the German invasion of Netherlands, German authorities are concerned that there are Dutch spies who are watching over the Kaiser.
As Brandt infiltrates the life of the Kaiser in order to find out if the claims of Dutch spies are true, he finds himself allured to the Kaiser’s maid, Mieke (portrayed by Lily James), who is secretly Jewish. Mieke is also an information who reports to the pastor in town and gives details of what is happening inside the Kaiser’s home. But Brandt and Mieke carry on a passionate rendezvous secretly.
Meanwhile Heinrich Himmler (portrayed by Eddie Marsand), who is head of the SS, pays a visit with many soldiers and Brandt must decide which is his priority, his allegiance to the Nazi party or his love for Mieke. Will he protect her?
“The Exception” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:39:1 aspect ratio). While the shots are primarily shot indoors, picture quality is good, scenes are well-lit and close-up details are very good. There are no signs of artifact or banding issues.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“The Exception” is presented in English and Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and features crystal clear dialogue. While surround channels capture environment ambiance, this film’s soundtrack is primarily dialogue and music-driven.
Subtitles are in English SDH and Spanish.
“The Exception” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by director David Leveaux.
- “Behind the Scenes of The Exception” – (19:20) A look at the making of “The Exception” featuring interviews with cast and crew.
“The Exception” comes with the Blu-ray and an UltraViolet HD code.
One of the problems when watching films based on historical figures is whether or not the information is factual.
Many people are not familiar with German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II and there are some that may come to watch “The Exception” and think this is factual history, but in truth, this is a film adaptation based on a fictional novel by Alan Judd.
But while timelines are different from fact and there are changes to certain figures, “The Exception” is still an entertaining film blending espionage and romance and a look at division of German allegiance.
For the most part, the film revolves around a German soldier sent to be head personal guard for German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II. And with his time there, he falls for the servant named Mieke. Mieke is secretly a Jew and also an informant providing information to the local priest of what is going on inside the Kaiser’s home but also a woman wanting revenge against the Nazi’s due to the Gestapo killing her husband and father.
So, we have a tale of romance but seeing Mieke trying to do her job but also providing information, she wants to assassinate Nazi leadership if given the chance.
And while the story primarily focuses on German Officer Stefan Brandt and the servant Mieke, the film also focuses a lot on the character of German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II.
With Germany under the rule of the German Empire led by German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II for many years and many of the people who grew up reading about their former leader’s accomplishment, especially with the Navy, it would be no surprise if there were people still loyal to him. Despite being called by King George V, “the greatest criminal in history”.
But with mutiny within German ranks and chaos that would lead him to cross the border by train into Netherlands and going into Exile, Wilhelm hoped that the success of the Nazi Party would stimulate interest in the restoration of the monarchy. But in truth, Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis never looked at German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II in a positive light, especially since he was responsible for Germany’s greatest defeat, so no matter how many times his second wife, Hermine, tried to petition the Nazi government on her husband’s behalf, he grew to distrust Hitler.
In “The Exception”, the film tries to show us a Kaiser that is excited that his return back home to Germany may lead him to be monarch once again. While he hosted Hermann Goriing (a leading member of the Nazi Party) at Doorn, the film showed Wilhelm hosting Heinrich Himmler (the leading member of the Nazi Party directly responsible for the Holocaust), more for the purpose to show how Himmler was a man of no remorse and to show how evil the man was, when he casually discusses the murders of Jews.
But as the Kaiser and his wife think they are returning home, Himmler informs Brandt that it’s all a ruse and a trap for the Kaiser in order to eliminate any up-rise of other German leadership.
Brandt must face up to his own convictions and his allegiance as a German soldier. Which is more important…his personal convictions and how he feels about people (especially knowing the woman he has fallen for is a Jew) or his duty as a soldier for the Nazi Party?
And how long can this servant to continue without people picking up that she is an agent?
Overall, “The Exception” may not be historically factual, there are elements in the film that help keep you captivated. With a wonderful performance by Christopher Plummer and a fascinating blend of espionage and romance, Vaid Leveaux’s “The Exception” is a film worth watching.