This is an extremely moving and tragic tale of hopeless love between a middle-aged man and a young girl, who ultimately discover that they are really father and daughter. Such situations do arise. Many stories are known of brothers and sisters, and less frequently, of fathers and daughters, who have been separated all their lives, meet when adult, fall in love and even marry. It is because they are irresistibly drawn to each other for reasons they do not comprehend, and they have no previously existing incest taboo. In fact, it would be more usual than not for such a couple to end up in love. This story is taken from the novel HOMO FABER, published in 1957, by the famous Swiss author and playwright Max Frisch (1911-1991). Several grumpy reviews have been written by people complaining that the film is not sufficiently faithful to the original novel. Films rarely are, and we just have to get used to that. The only time a novel was perfectly translated to the screen was in the case of that work of genius, THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1949), where the novelist Ayn Rand not only wrote the screenplay but was given total creative control, overriding even King Vidor as director, and was able to choose her own leading man (Gary Cooper) as well. But otherwise, it has never happened. As someone who has not read Frisch's novel, I am free of the angst which so assails the distressed reviewers who have. The film is made magical by the performance of the enchanting Julie Delpy, who at that age had stepped straight off a canvas by Botticelli. She achieves shadings of mood and emotion of infinite hue, and shows a true genius, whether it be purely instinctive or by design, but it was impossible for me to watch this, even for the second time, without being spellbound at what she brings to the screen. Perfectly cast as her father is Sam Shepard, though he is annoying for two reasons: first, that he never takes his hat off indoors, which is simply infuriating, and second, that despite being supposed to be Swiss, he cannot pronounce the name Joachim properly. Those two sins are hard to forgive. Otherwise he is splendid. But the main credit for this dazzling creation must go to the director, the brilliant Volker Schlöndorff, who has achieved a true work of art. Delpy's mother is played by Barbara Sukowa, who is a very famous actress in Germany, despite her Polish name. She is always fascinating. In this film, however, she is required to play an extremely irritating character, so she is far from sympathetic. But she does it very well. Shepard got Sukowa pregnant when they were young, but she hysterically over-reacted when she imagined him to be marrying her without sufficient enthusiasm, and walked out on him just before the wedding and disappeared. She then married a man she didn't love and gave birth to Delpy who ended up fatherless because Sukowa left the man anyway. The whole tragedy was thus caused by Sukowa's headstrong and irrational behaviour. Twenty-one years later, Shepard meets Delpy on an ocean liner and they are irresistibly drawn to one another. He fights it but she is determined that she loves him, and who could resist Delpy, then or now? So love happens. They slowly make their way to Athens where Delpy's mother is working as an archaeologist, and just before they get there it becomes clear that Delpy is Sukowa's daughter, but Shepard still does not know whether she is really his daughter yet. Then a tragedy occurs. Delpy is bitten by a horned viper (I didn't know they had them in Greece, I thought they only had adders, but I must be wrong), and there is a desperate attempt by Shepard to get her to hospital and save her life. At this point Sukowa turns up. She is extremely unfriendly to poor Shepard, before she even realizes there is any reason to be. They both worry together about Delpy and Sukowa confirms that she is really his daughter, so the tragedy of his love for her becomes unescapable. Delpy survives the snakebite but further tragic events unfold, and things get sadder still. I shall not reveal more. This is a long and deeply engrossing film, made by a master, perfectly cast, and infinitely sad. What really makes it such a classic is the angelic waiflike quality of Delpy. She really is unique in the cinema, and now she is also a director, producer, editor, and composer as well. She did all that for 2 DAYS IN Paris (2007, see my review). So she is a phenomenon. But as an actress, this film is one of her greatest achievements, perhaps the finest.