Effie Gray (2014)

Effie Gray (2014)
  • Time: 108 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Director: Richard Laxton
  • Cast: Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson, Tom Sturridge, Julie Walters


Based on the real-life scandal that shocked Victorian-era England, the film tells the story of Euphemia “Effie” Gray. At 19, she married the prominent art historian and critic John Ruskin, but Ruskin refused to consummate their marriage. Lonely and frustrated Effie is drawn to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, and finds a friend and champion in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake. After five years trapped in a loveless marriage, Effie will defy the rules of Victorian society…

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  • The uncoupling of noted Victorian art critic John Ruskin and his wife Euphemia “Effie” Gray was quite the scandal of its time. Though together for five years, the marriage was never consummated for reasons unknown, though an aversion to children, a preference to preserve her purity, and a disgust with her body were among the excuses he offered. As if the charge of impotency was not enough, Effie’s subsequent marriage to Ruskin’s protégé, pre-Raphaelite artist Everett Millais continued to fan the flames of gossip. The period drama Effie Gray largely avoids the fallout from the famous love triangle in favour of what preceded it, namely Effie’s life as prisoner in the institution of marriage.

    The film sketches the preliminaries with fairy tale-like simplicity: she was 12 and living in the home where Ruskin’s grandfather killed himself. Ruskin (Greg Wise) thought her an angel and married her once she was eligible, taking her home to Denmark Hill where he is mollycoddled by his mother (Julie Walters), ignored and disapproved of by his father (David Suchet), and enslaved to his work. Effie, who seems to have been the center of his attention before their marriage (he wrote a novel for her and painted her), finds herself subjugated to the sidelines with all efforts to look after her husband consistently dismissed by her mother-in-law. “You have married no ordinary man,” she tells Effie, “[and] the best way you can help him is by leaving him alone.”​

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