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The Exception

1 h 47 min2017X-Ray15
Secrets are revealed, allegiances are tested, and love is defined. Set in WWII - when German soldier Stefan (Jai Courtney: Suicide Squad) goes on a mission to investigate exiled German Monarch Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), he ends up falling dangerously in love with Mieke (Lily James: Cinderella) one of the housemaids. All is fair in love and war.
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Supporting actors
Christopher Plummer
Lou PittJudy Tossell
Signature Entertainment
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsmokingviolence
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4.3 out of 5 stars

1024 global ratings

  1. 61% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 21% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 4% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Cat23Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 November 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A bit of a guilty pleasure.
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Based on Alan Judd's fine novel, "The Kaiser's Last Kiss", this is an old-fashioned adventure yarn set during World War II rather than a war film.
The basic premise has a disillusioned Wehrmacht captain, Brandt, ordered to act as security officer to Kaiser Wilhelm, following the Dutch capitulation in 1941. His job is made more difficult by the threat of a British agent in the vicinity and the Kaiser's naive belief that Hitler is about to restore the German monarchy.
What follow are a series of dexterously handled scenes in which we get to witness the Kaiser's gradual understanding that he has no place within the Nazi regime, an examination of loyalty and a burgeoning romance. The latter should be completely redundant in a film like this yet is given life by its protagonists.
What we are given are an exciting couple of hours of genuinely exciting bluff and counter-bluff.
The performances are uniformly very good with not a weak link to be found. The two juvenile leads are very appealing with the lovely Lily James going from strength to strength and Jai Courtney finally achieving the leading-man status he has long deserved.
Of course, the acting laurels go to veteran Christopher Plummer, who I used to find quite smug when I was growing up. Whether it's to do with his advanced age, or my own, I can now appreciate the subtleties of his craft. He is ably abetted by the ever-wonderful Janey McTeer (in a seemingly unsympathetic role) and the cool gravitas of Ben Miles. A telling cameo by the brilliant Eddie Marsan adds to the overall effect.
Some interesting moral qyestions are raised in this film ( reference to Nietzche's "Beyond Good and Evil" being made) but it doesn't purport to be be anything other than a classy tale of derring-do.
Genuinely exciting at times, genuinely moving at others, this is a movie in the mould of "The Eagle has Landed" or "The Spy in Black" rather than "The Thin Red Line".
In many ways, I preferred this slightly to the novel on which it was based as the protagonists were fleshed out very well.
78 people found this helpful
BrummieReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 November 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
well worth a viewing
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This film was actually better than I was expecting, Christopher Plummer is at his best as the delusioned Kaiser shifting character from a kindly grandfather to that of a autocrat given to savage outbursts when WW1 and it's post war effects on the German population (hyper inflation) crops up in conversation.
One other performance that stands out is that of Eddie Marsans chilling performance of Himmler calmly discussing murder and the search for the final solution over dinner.
The film itself is well worth watching but a little background information such as how the Kaiser came to be in Holland would help, I don't know how much of this is actually based on fact but the offer from Churchill is true!
22 people found this helpful
J. Scott-mandevilleReviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2018
3.0 out of 5 stars
Romance and history all in one
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I wasn't sure what 'The Exception' was all about and bought it because it had some of my favourite actors in it. As a Second World War film, I found it interesting because it highlighted an aspect little known - the position of exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II (emperor of Germany at the beginning of the First World War) who was living in luxury in Doorn House near Utrecht in the Netherlands. The story focuses on a romance between the Kaiser's SS guard and a maid who turns out to be not only Jewish, but a spy for the British (since the Nazis killed her husband and brother). The story is not entirely convincing but Lily James does a good job as the maid, Mieke. Christopher Plummer plays the ex-Kaiser and Janet McTeer his wife Hermine, the latter scared and tense with their vulnerable situation and determined to indicate loyalty to Hitler although neither she nor the ex-Kaiser are really in favour of the new regime but hope for a restoration of the monarchy. Plummer (at 85) is excellent as the slightly-mad, obsessive man who once ruled a vast empire and thought he was invincible. McTeer is marvellous, supporting her husband, covering up his tactlessness, displaying courtesy to Nazi visitors (particularly the terrifying Himmler) but the audience is well-aware of her stress and strain. Eddie Marsan has a cameo as Himmler and truly brings a sense of serious menace to this ghastly figure of Nazi persecution. The dinner table scene with Himmler is perhaps the most dramatic in the film, where the anti-semitism of both the Kaiser and his wife and the Nazi is discussed, but where the royal couple draw back from the extremism Himmler displays. The devilish irony of the Jewish maid standing in the background, having to serve these awful people adds poignancy.

While this is not a brilliant film, it has its moments and throws an interesting light on an obscure bit of WWII history (though it was in fact Goering, not Himmler, who actually visited the ex-Kaiser in Utrecht). Lily James and Jai Courtney play their parts respectably but their infatuation and the denouement are unrealistic. Worth watching for what must be one of Christopher Plummer's last roles.
8 people found this helpful
EllieReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 December 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
I liked the movie
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Ok.. So here's the thing.. I liked the movie.. it was an interesting love story of a jew and a nazi.. right... but something about it bothered me and the only way I can sum it up is this: it was... glitchy in it's storytelling? There were moments where I was like, wait what just happened? It was all a bit random like I'd fallen asleep and missed something and now this part didn't make a huge amount of sense. Like *spoiler alert* the bit where they meet the first time and do the dirty... It's a bit forward... I didn't see any spark develop between them and suddenly they're telling eachother to strip and having a merry go at it.. and I'm pretty sure that was 5 minutes into the whole movie.. That's just one example but overall it was an interesting premise, great actors and some slightly explicit nudity (like full frontal male nudity which is fine by me but just unexpected).
13 people found this helpful
sharon coombsReviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 June 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A watch and watch again film
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I was totally immersed from the start. I wouldnt normally be drawn to a war film but being a keen fan of Lily James (who is brilliant in this) I had to give this one a go and am so glad I did. From the moment Mieke opens the door to Stefan, you feel an attraction as their eyes meet. The relationship moves on at a rather spectacular pace but is highly charged and wonderfully acted by both characters. I havent come across Jai Courtney before but was utterly amazed to find that he is actually Australian, testament to his portrayal of the German Captain. Christopher Plummer was totally believable as the exiled Kaiser. I found myself wanting to know more about him; why did he end up in Holland, how and when did he die... Throughout the film the tension builds and you wonder how on earth Mieke the spy can possibly escape the SS but she does, with the help of her German Captain and the Kaiser, with performances that are heart wrenching and heart warming, respectively. The ending is tidy and leaves you feeling positive about the future but it would be wonderful to have a sequel, showing us whether the love story really does have a happy ending and what happens to the Kaiser. A war film without a lot of blood and guts but full of good acting.
2 people found this helpful
Lilia333Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 20 December 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
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I was dubious about watching this film because I am a history student, and had heard very mixed reviews. To be sure, the historical accuracy is not all on point, but the value of the story lies far beyond that. The relationship between the protagonists is deeply moving and complex, and Lily James and Jai Courtney give stellar performances. What I found the most captivating about this film though is the rather "alternative" depiction of Kaiser Wilhelm II, in his old age... A figure vilified by history, one cannot help but warm to Christopher Plummer's witty and, by all accounts reasonable, Bill. Accurate or not, it was a refreshing portrayal. I thoroughly enjoyed this film from start to finish
One person found this helpful
AmyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 March 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
How was this movie made?
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This movie is really bad. It's one of those movies I'll never understand how it actually made it to being filmed as you hear so many good films take years to be made and yet this one made the cut? really?!
The idea of the film, a love story between a jew and Nazi is a really good base for a movie, but the way it's told is so unrealistic to the point of it being stupid!
Why would a Jew during the second world war jump into bed with an officer then so openly tell him that she was in fact a Jew?! I felt their story at some parts was rushed and just made no sense.
The only good thing about this movie a naked Jai Courtney! a highlight for me!
2 people found this helpful
S SamariReviewed in the United Kingdom on 08 April 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
History Drama -
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Reality -- There were many who betray family -- WW2 young Germans Brainwashed by someone is very good at Marketing who engaged millions to kill for him any Jew and even Christians across the river!

The Movie hopefully based on numerous true stories... felt very real. 1-2 mistakes for a man with physical issues holding a bag ... and the girl covering herself ? even though once the girl and the soldier weer more intimate with each other ... putting that aside very good 4 stars, but I give it 5 as it made me emotional.... Not many Movies can do that

. but overall intrigue I wanted to see it over 2 nights, as it was late, but could not leave it, just like Goliath the series... so I watched it.
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