Aimée & Jaguar is a 1999 German drama film set in Berlin during World War II. It was written and directed by Max Färberböck, based upon Erica Fischer's book, chronicling the actual lives of Lilly Wust and Felice Schragenheim during that time. Before Erica Fischer's bestseller, Lilly Wust was tracked down by the American journalist, author, and noted Holocaust researcher, Charles Brady who considered Lilly Wust a Holocaust victim. It was over a year and a half, however, before Wust was able to confide in Brady and tell him her whole story. They remained close friends for 20 years until her death in 2006.
Fischer's book contains photos of the many letters shared between the two, and official correspondences post World War II with regard to Felice's whereabouts. The movie stars Juliane Köhler as Lilly Wust, Maria Schrader as Felice Schragenheim, as well as Johanna Wokalek, Elisabeth Degen, Heike Makatsch, Detlev Buck.
The film explores the lives of the characters Felice Schragenheim (Maria Schrader), a Jewish woman who assumed a false name and who belongs to an underground organization, and Lilly Wust (Juliane Köhler), a married mother of four children, unsatisfied with her philandering Nazi officer husband.
The film begins in 1997, with an 83-year-old Lilly (played by Inge Keller) taking up residence in a dilapidated flat that once served as an underground hideout. Brought to a retirement home, Lilly encounters her old maid Ilse (played by Johanna Wokalek in the 1940s, by Kyra Mladeck in 1997), who was rounded up during 1945, and is already a tenant.
In 1943, Felice, assuming a false last name and working as a journalist at a Nazi newspaper, meets Lilly via her friend and sometimes lover Ilse, who works as Lilly's housekeeper. Instantly smitten, she takes the initiative in the love affair by sending flagrant letters to Lilly and signing her name as Jaguar, much to Ilse's dismay. One fateful afternoon, Felice, Ilse, and their friends Klara and Lotte are accosted by German soldiers, and all but Lotte manage to escape. Shot down by the soldiers, they find no identification on Lotte's body except for a photograph of her and Felice. Lonely due to the constant absence of her husband, Lilly engages in a series of affairs with other men, but is disillusioned by the callous treatment of her latest tryst with another Nazi officer. She grows closer to Felice, who attempts to kiss her during a New Year's Eve Party in her Berlin apartment after Lilly discovers her philandering husband with Ilse, but rejects her. As her husband tries to make amends with her the following morning, Lilly realizes she has never loved him and reconciles with Felice.
With her husband again away at war, Lilly and Felice begin a shaky but intense relationship. The film features both erotic encounters and sentimental love poems (quoted from the book), and during one love scene Felice proclaims Lilly is an Aimée to Felice as Jaguar. On Lilly's birthday, Felice and her friends throw a party in her apartment that culminates in a lesbian orgy. Lilly is mortified when she sees Ilse and Felice kissing drunkenly, and further disillusioned when Felice rejects her advances for the night. The next morning, Lilly’s husband arrives on special leave for his wife's birthday only to witness the aftermath of the previous night's events. Although enraged, he vows to not punish her for her indiscretion so long that their marriage and life remain intact, but Lilly instead surprises him by asking for a divorce. Afraid that her husband may turn them in, Felice and her friends stop seeing Lilly for the sake of their own survival. Heartbroken, Lilly holes up in her apartment, eventually sending her children away to safety, and erupts in anger when Felice finally visits her after several weeks. Felice reveals the truth that she is Jewish and feared for her life, and the two make up.
After the 20 July Plot, Felice and her friends fear for their lives and arrange to flee Germany before they are rounded up. At the last moment, Felice decides to stay in spite of the danger so that she may remain with Lilly. After a day of frolicking in the countryside, the two return to Lilly's apartment where Felice is captured by the Gestapo, using the photograph of her and Lotte to identify her. She is sent to the Theresienstadt concentration camp from where the two still manage to correspond, but all contact is lost by the end of 1944.
Lilly and Ilse reminisce about times past as the film ends. Lilly, though saddened by the tragedy that she caused her friends and lovers, is unable to imagine how her life could have been any different, given her obsessive live-for-today-for-tomorrow-we-die mentality, common among besieged Berliners. Lilly Wust lived in Berlin until her death on 31 March 2006. The tagline of the film is "Love Transcends Death".Maria Schrader as Felice Schragenheim (Jaguar)
Juliane Köhler as Lilly Wust (Aimée)
Johanna Wokalek as Ilse
Heike Makatsch as Klärchen
Elisabeth Degen as Lotte
Detlev Buck as Günther Wust
Inge Keller as Lilly Wust (1997)
Kyra Mladeck as Ilse (1997)
Sarah Camp as Frau Kappler
Klaus Manchen as Herr Kappler
Margit Bendokat as Frau Jäger
Jochen Stern as Werner Lause
Peter Weck as Chefredakteur Keller
Lia Dultzkaya as Hulda
Dani Levy as Fritz Borchert
Rüdiger Hacker as Ernst Biermösel
Köhler and Schrader won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival. The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film.