Friday, 03 April 2015 00:00

Effie Gray Featured

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Sovereign Films and Adopt Films present a 108 minute, PG-13, Drama, directed by Richard Laxton and written by Emma Thompson with a limited release theater date of April 3, 2015.

 

A young angelic girl, Euphemia ‘Effie’ Gray (Dakota Fanning), lives in Scotland that is until she marries a prominent older gentleman, a well-known art historian and critic, John Ruskin (Greg Wise) and moves to London to live with his parents, Margaret Cox Ruskin (Julie Walters), a very demanding woman and her husband, his father (David Suchet), a stern man who John is always trying to impress. When Effie arrives at the home she soon experiences the ways of the estate and the people who work there as John’s mother proves to be over-protective of John and unkind to Effie. As time goes by Effie wonders what married people do and seeks advice from John’s mother yet to her reply she finds comfort in her roses and the Bible and suggests that Effie find a hobby and never bother John as he works. John always worked and Effie was always neglected both mentally and physically but she honored him hoping that life out of his parent’s house and a family of their own would change things. One big question is if she will ever have the chance to live a private life away from his parents.

One evening at a dinner party presented by Lady Eastlake (Emma Thompson) and her husband Sir Charles Eastlake (James Fox) Effie discovers a voice and along with her voice a friend in Lady Eastlake. Effie divulges her situation of life with John and his over-protective parents that act like dragons in a fairy tale. Thankfully Lady Eastlake reaches out soon visiting their home and later recommending a trip to Venice where John can write and Effie can hopefully find alone time with her husband. John was still throughout their time in Venice mentally abusive to Effie telling her to go out and have fun with others but then verbally chastising her for doing so. He is not a partier but apparently Effie is but only because John never showed her love and attention. Albeit through all the mental anguish John bestowed on Effie she still never strayed or dishonored their marriage. She asked for love, she showed love and at times begged for his attention but he still never stopped working nor never honored her wishes or their marriage.

On a trip out to Scotland Effie and John joined by a friend Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) spend time together in a small home so Everett, a painter, could paint a portrait of John.   As the three spent more time together Everett discovered exactly how John treated Effie and within this time he started to fall in love with her. Although when John is confronted by Effie with wishes to leave him he threatens her reputation in society. Thanks to a wonderful friendship with Lady Eastlake and some much appreciated advice and help Effie after so many years of torture knew now what she needed to do so she did.

The film is very well written although plays a lot off cinematography and speechless moments than actual dialogue. It is directed well with a wonderful score and costumes but I think because at times it tends to drag along maybe a bit more dialogue and character development would help. Grant it Effie and John and the lack of their relationship is very well told and demonstrated how they feel through their movement and visual connections but still a bit shorter on time and a little more peaks and valleys would have helped create a bit more excitement on this very level road. This story truly demonstrates the effect on one’s body, mind and soul the lack of love and attention has on someone, hence in this story Effie. It is so torturous to give yourself to someone entirely and get nothing back in return other than lack of attention and excuses. Yet even though the hurt is there the one person who loves the other stays in trying to fix it rather than do what is best which is to leave.

Fanning is superb as is Thompson who happens to not have a big role but an important one to the story. Walters and Suchet are the parents no child ever wants to know and Wise is the honest reflection of what happens to a child who grows up in the shadows of such over-protective, over-zealous parents. When they say momma’s boy this man is still within her womb! Sturridge was a nice delight yet it would have helped to see more of him and Fanning together although as the story goes she was trying so much to honor her marriage that a relationship with another would have only made her look dishonorable even though it was her husband that was at fault. Overall the film is a bit slow but does have an intriguing story if you’re capable to keep your attention on it long enough. If not use your opportunity to decide for yourself and just leave but if not you might just find yourself engulfed in the characters. Written with two paws out of four I’m Jon Patch.

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