In the nineteenth century, seventeen year old Effi Briest is married to the older Baron von Instetten and moves into a house, that she believes has a ghost, in a small isolated Baltic town.... See full summary »
In the nineteenth century, seventeen year old Effi Briest is married to the older Baron von Instetten and moves into a house, that she believes has a ghost, in a small isolated Baltic town. She soon bears a daughter, Annie, and hires the lapsed Catholic Roswitha to look after her. Effi is lonely when her husband is away on business, so she spends time riding and walking along the shore with Major Crampas. Instetten is promoted to Ministerial Councillor and the family moves to Berlin, where Effi enjoys the social life. Six years later, the Baron is given letters from Crampas to Effi that convince him that they had an affair. He feels obliged to challenge Crampas to a duel and banish Effi from the house. Written by
Exquisite black-and-white photography, gorgeous costumes, stunning landscapes, and actors photographed in mirrors and through laced-curtains are the highlights of this emotionally distant film. It is true, however, that the leading actress has her cathartic scene, but it comes late in the film. Too late to really make one care about the spoiled, rich young lady. But this is Fassbinder, and Fassbinder is always watchable, even at his most pretentious. One joy of this film is the presence of Irm Hermann, who can do more with one glare (she doesn't need dialogue as "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" proved for all time) then any actor I can think of. Schygulla and the other actors are mostly wooden. The beauty of the scene with the starkly handsome Lommel as the rich major and Schygulla picnicking at the beach makes one forgive the shortcomings of the film.
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