In 1938 Berlin, Gudrun Landgrebe, wife of Nazi functionary Kevin McNally, begins taking art lessons. She makes the acquaintance of another student, Japanese ambassador’s daughter Mio Takaki. Soon afterwards, the two women begin a passionate lesbian affair. This leads to a chain reaction of disaster and tragedy, culminating with the inevitable intervention of the Gestapo. Despite the film’s galloping sexual passions, The Berlin Affair is an exercise in aloofness, keeping the characters at arm’s length-surprising, considering that the director was Liliana Cavani, auteur of the erotic classic The Night Porter (1974). The film was based on The Buddhist Cross, a novel by Junichiro Tanizaki. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
It’s 1938 in Berlin, and Louise (Gudrun Landgrebe), the wife of a high ranking Nazi official, becomes very intrigued with Mitsuko (Mio Takaki), the daughter of the Japanese ambassador to Germany. As Louise later tells her professor, “One moment we were laughing, the next, we were making love.” The two spend almost all of their time together, and Louise is totally in love. Her husband Heinz (Kevin McNally) figures out what’s going on, jealous, but also worried about implications for himself. Heinz has been asked to take part in a purge of suspected gay men from the ranks of Nazi officials.
The women plot to scare Heinz to get him to accept their relationship, both taking a dose of sleeping pills to seemingly try to kill themselves. In a major ick moment, Mitsuko wakes before Louise, and while Louise watches in a haze, Heinz has sex with Mitsuko in the bed next to her.
Heinz and Mitsuko begin having an affair as well, and it’s apparent that she controls both of her lovers. She doesn’t want the husband and wife to have sex, so she feeds them sleeping powder before bed every night. The jealousy in the household is overwhelming.
And then Louise and Mitsuko are found out, with a story appearing in the newspaper. The love triangle comes to end in an unexpected way.
This film is a recreation of the 1964 Japanese movie Manji.