Effie Gray

Film, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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Effie Gray

Poor John Ruskin. He will forever be remembered not as the greatest Victorian art critic, the man who single-handedly rescued pre-Raphaelite painters from starvation in drafty garrets. No, if most people know anything about Ruskin, it is the legend of his wedding night, when he was so disgusted by his teenage wife Effie’s pubic hair (he learnt everything he knew about the female form from bush-less paintings) that he couldn’t bring himself to have sex with her, ever.

This intelligent British drama, written by Emma Thompson, dramatises the Ruskins’ marriage. Dakota Fanning plays Effie, who finally left Ruskin in 1853 after falling in love with his protégé, the painter John Millais (Tom Sturridge). The marriage was annulled on the grounds that it was never consummated. Although Thompson doesn’t dwell too much on the wedding night, she deftly demonstrates the difficulty of marriage in an age when women were idealised as angels of virtue. Ruskin (played by Thompson’s husband Greg Wise) didn’t want a wife; he wanted a painting, beautiful but silent.

It’s a thoughtful, well-acted and perceptive drama. However, for a film about a love triangle the sparks don’t exactly fly.

By: Cath Clarke

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Release details

Release date: Friday October 10 2014
Duration: 0 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Richard Laxton
Screenwriter: Emma Thompson
Cast: Emma Thompson
Dakota Fanning
Claudia Cardinale
Julie Walters
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