The Kaiser is no fool to his or her situation, despite what the nagging and strict Princess Hermine (Janet McTeer) thinks of this old man being oblivious. He’s a man of simple pleasures and finds delight in two young people falling for each other that he’s willing to keep it under his hat as well. He may not be willing to take on the Nazis out in the open to defend the two, but if they asked for an escape under cover of nightfall, he wouldn’t say no. That being said, he’s not afraid to speak his mind at a few awkward dinners, as well as during a special visit from the no-nonsense Nazi official Heinrich Himmler (Eddie Marsan).
The original title of The Exception was The Kaiser’s Last Kiss, and it’s easy to see why the change was made. While Plummer’s Kaiser performance is absolutely perfect in every way, his story still feels secondary for not being as interesting. The character study of the Kaiser’s final days and dealing with Nazi officials is nowhere near as compelling as the romantic tension of Courtney and James, both of which throw themselves deeply into these roles. The real chemistry between the two characters, coupled with the stellar encouragement of Plummer, help launch a rather dismal drama into a pleasing and punctual affair. The acting takes exception over the underwhelming climax of the Kaiser’s last kiss.