'Effie Gray': A Woman In A World Of Art That's Crudely Drawn

April 2, 2015 9:03 PM

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Effie Gray opens after the wedding of its eponymous protagonist (Dakota Fanning) and John Ruskin (Greg Wise) but its not long before you sense that their marriage is headed for trouble. As the two are traveling by train from Effie's Scottish hometown to John's home in London, Effie remarks that "this is the first time we've ever been entirely alone." The 19th-century England setting precludes a quick cabin consummation, but the fear that enters John's eyes at the mention of intimacy is unmistakable and, even accounting for Victorian morality, worrisome.

One thing to get out of the way first: Ruskin was a real-life art critic, Effie his real-life wife, and John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge), the painter with whom Effie later falls in love, a real-life artist. Effie Gray is based on a true story, but refreshingly it never says so. Whatever importan...

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