Love blossoms during WWII in this film based on Alan Judd’s novel ‘The Kaiser’s Last Kiss’, a fictional story in a historical setting. Lily James is Mieke, a spirited young servant working in the grand household of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Christopher Plummer, on comfortable territory). Despite the opulence of his home, Wilhelm is living in exile, in Holland, and the German authorities fear a Dutch spy is watching him and reporting to the British.
As Wilhelm and Mieke slowly strike up a friendship (not encouraged by Wilhelm’s wife), a handsome German soldier, Stefan (Jai Courtney), comes to stay. His mission is to root out the spy, but he’s decidedly distracted by Mieke. They first meet when she comes to his quarters with a message; he immediately orders her to disrobe. Not the most promising start to a consensual relationship, but writer Simon Burke just about makes the complex connection between the two plausible and acceptable to a modern audience. Both James and Courtney are great, and the spy story keeps things moving. The dialogue’s sometimes clunky, and allusions to the atrocities of war are glossed over. But if you’re in the mood for a sexy, pacy period thriller, it does the job.