Late 19th century Germany. A wholly inexperienced teenage girl is pushed into a marriage with a minor aristocrat many years her senior. She bears him a child, but her first knowledge of emotional warmth is gained when a neighbour makes moves to seduce her. Fassbinder's Effi Briest is quite literally a film of Theodor Fontane's novel: everything about the way it's conceived and structured draws attention back to the literary source. As a result, Effi is not just another Fassbinder victim-figure, but (true to Fontane) an index of her society's morality; she is exploited in various ways by everyone around her, but she suffers only because she hasn't the strength to challenge the social codes that bind her. Schygulla plays her with absolute conviction. Filmed in black and white, with extraordinary delicacy and reserve, this is one of Fassbinder's best films.