The story of Effie Gray, that took place in the Victorian age, is full of unanswered questions. It’s based on the true story of John Ruskin, a visionary art critic and his young wife Effie: he never touched his wife because perhaps he imagined her pure, pale and he couldn’t love her in the flesh.
Ruskin (Greg Wise) was not attracted to Effie (Dakota Fanning), he probably expected her to be the same as the white, Greek statues that he used to study and admire, so when he first saw her naked he was shocked. In the film, from a screenplay written by Emma Thompson, there is no conclusion as to why Ruskin rejected her.
Emma Thompson plays Lady Eastlake, a nice woman who breaks stereotypes about the sullenness of Victorian women and asks her questions and receives answers so she decides to guide Effie out of her unhappy marriage. For Effie she is like a light in the darkness.
Luckily for Effie, the story has a happy ending: she secures an annulment after proving her husband had never consummated their union, and then she marries the artist John Everett Millais.
Effie Gray is a slow movie, actors act on tiptoe, the viewers perceive the dramatic mood, the whispers and the tears. Lady Eastlake is the only cheerful person, the only one who laugh heartily in the scene in which she leaves the house of Ruskins and gets into the carriage with her husband, played by James Fox.
Some scenes were shot in Venice. It’s exciting Effie’s escape through the alleyways chased by the naughty Venetian man played by Riccardo Scamarcio.