Fontane Effi Briest


Reviewed by: Keith Dudhnath

Fontane Effi Briest
"The bold black and white cinematography looks stunning and enhances the mood of the film."

Effi Briest (Hanna Schygulla) is a young woman who marries a middle-aged man (Wolfgang Schenck) hoping to make his way in politics. She is somewhat flighty and nervous, whilst he simply tells her not to be. She then has an affair, and the events play themselves out.

Fassbinder, as per usual, has created a masterful film that it is almost impossible to fault. The bold black and white cinematography looks stunning and enhances the mood of the film. The direction is clever and intriguing without ever being showy or distracting. The acting performances from first to last are perfect, with the silences and telling looks revealing as much of the characters as their words do. If you want to see how films could and should be made, look no further.

Copy picture

The only criticism I have of Effi Briest is that it's a film to be appreciated rather than a film to enjoy. (I realise this may sound like I was expecting to chomp popcorn throughout, or that it's similar to complaining that Police Academy isn't highbrow enough!) Appreciation and enjoyment aren't mutually exclusive. It's a magnificent film in every way, but it lacks that final indescribable spark that turns an excellent film into a true classic.

It's unfair (and indeed unfairly weighted) criticism, perhaps: films don't have to be perfect. There's nothing that could be changed to improve it. Even calling it a missed opportunity wouldn't be accurate. However, the overriding feeling I was left with was that I was delighted to have seen such a great film, but that it wasn't one that I'd be popping back in the DVD player for a while.

Despite my nebulous grumbling, Effi Briest is definitely a film worth watching.

Reviewed on: 14 Nov 2007
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Fontane Effi Briest packshot
A young woman, who has married a politician, finds an affair has consequences. Out to own now on the RW Fassbinder Commemorative Collection: Vol 2.
Amazon link

Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

Writer: Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Theodor Fontane

Starring: Hanna Schygulla, Wolfgang Schenck, Ulli Lommel, Lilo Pempeit, Herbert Steinmetz, Ursula Strätz, Irm Hermann, Karlheinz Böhm, Karl Scheydt, Barbara Lass, Rudolf Lenz

Year: 1974

Runtime: 140 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: West Germany


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