112 minutes| Germany| 2009| Subtitled| Colour| Anamorphic| 35mm

Theodor Fontane’s classic, which is up there with Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary as one of the great 19th century novels about the lot of women in society, has been filmed many times, the most famous previous German adaptation being Rainer-Werner Fassbinder’s austere 1974 version. This new interpretation by director Hermine Huntgeburth is a visually gorgeous production that provides the novel’s adulterous Prussian teenage heroine with a less infelicitous destiny and more explicit sex.

Played by a terrific Julia Jentsch (Sophie Scholl), the 17-year-old Effi is married off by her parents to the much older Baron von Instetten (Sebastian Koch). To find respite from her dull domestic existence, Effi begins an affair with a handsome young officer, but their dalliance carries a high cost. Director Huntgeburth approaches the classic story though a post-women’s liberation lens that allows the heroine a final escape she was denied in Fontane’s novel.

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