Effie Gray (Adopt Films, PG-13)

Effie-Gray 75The only thing that stood out to me was Dakota Fanning’s performance, which was basically just being miserable, but with a British accent.

 

Effie-Gray 500

 

Directed by Richard Laxton (Burton and Taylor) and written by double Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility) comes the entirely gloomy and depressing story of Effie Gray. During the opening scene we see teenage Euphemia, the beautiful and very talented Dakota Fanning (War of the Worlds) strolling through a garden full of flowers, almost making us wrongly assume that what will follow is going to be a romantic love story (or at least with a happy ending). Nope, instead we soon discover that her new, and severely older husband, John Ruskin, played by Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility) is a noble Victorian art critic and couldn’t care less about Effie or their marriage.

Just as you could probably predict, an older man marrying an innocent teenager turns out to be a horrible idea, and Effie’s hopes of a dream-like relationship crash to the ground just as steadily as ours for a good movie, and soon enough we just pray to even see her smile. For the rest of the film’s 108 minutes we are constantly forced to feel saddened or even sorry for her; she is stuck in a suffocating marriage without any intimacy, emotion, or affection at all. John Ruskin’s overly caring, yet very formal parents don’t exactly approve of his new wife either, and Effie is forced to sit back silently and hold all of her emotions inside; possibly a very relatable situation for many of us young adult females.

During another one of their rather boring getaways, she bonds with a young, talented painter (Tom Sturridge) over the hate they both share for her husband, John. This creates a ‘scandalous love-triangle’ as the film’s plot description states, but to be honest, I wasn’t even sure if they were actually having the affair or not myself. It seems that the primary focus of Effie Gray is in her suffering, and it was so dominant throughout the whole story, it was very hard to find something positive to look for amongst all the pain on screen.

Even though I admired the cinematography by Andrew Dunn (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), the movie was still too slow, dull, and depressing for me to actually enjoy sitting through. (Maybe because marriage is a scary topic for me in general, and because this was probably the worst marital disaster case I have yet witnessed in a peaceful genre.) The only thing that stood out to me was Dakota Fanning’s performance, which was basically just being miserable, but with a British accent. | Lea Vrábelová

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