Emma Thompson not only writes the screenplay, but stars in the real-life Victorian drama of unrequited love, yearning and heartache with her latest film ~ EFFIE GRAY.
Young Euphemia “Effie” (Dakota Fanning) has long been courted by the much older, yet very distinguished critic and art historian John Ruskin (Greg Wise). When the time comes for her to be betrothed at the mere young age of 19, Effie cannot wait to share her life, and herself with the man she loves’
Forced to take up residence with not only her new husband, but with his mother Margaret (Julie Walters) and his father (David Suchet) too, Effie wonders if married life will ever become what she always dreamed it would be.
Longing to be with her husband to consummate their marriage, Effie’s advances are dismissed, as apparently John is only interested in beholding her beauty from afar. As Effie tries to find her path and purpose in life, she is invited to dinner with many John’s fellow artisans, including the very talented, and very gorgeous painter Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge).
Keeping her commitment to her marriage vows, Effie is consumed by her dismal existence without any love and affection from her husband, and the life she experiences when not under his scrutiny or watchful eye.
When Millais is commissioned to paint a portrait of John~Effie is again tormented in the presence of these two men ~ as she must continue her façade of being the dutiful wife, all while longing to be in the arms of Everett, as he shows her more kindness and respect than her husband ever has, or will…
I give EFFIE GRAY a C: First off, some of the cinematography in this film is absolutely breathtaking, as the exquisite scenery and architecture throughout are something to behold. Fanning’s performance as the young bride, longing to come alive in her new life, and in the arms of her new husband is exceptional and Wise’s performance is also adequate as the stoic and unresponsive husband who gathers more joy from tormenting his young bride than disrobing her. And Sturridge’s casting as the from-a-distance love interest is perfect, but I was hoping for a few more passionate glances, or a few more persuasive nuances to secure that these too are truly IN LOVE. Watson’s penning of this true tale of pain, torment and eventual escape was not bad, and writing herself in as Lady Eastlake, the one person in Effie’s life who not only understands her pain, but wants nothing more than to see her live the life she was destined to ~ was a good choice as well. But…and you know by the rating there had to be on of those ~ this film seems to drag on and on and on in so many places that you find yourself checking your watch periodically, and even with all of the positives on screen we just discussed, the snail like pace and the lack of hardly any passion between Fanning and Sturridge showing up on screen, makes me give this film it’s AVERAGE Score!