Friday, 28 November 2014

Effie Gray.

There was an unusually strong difference of opinion at this weeks Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre’s Film Club showing of Effie Gray (2014). Which included a walk out by a regular film club attendee part way through the film and following the screening a lively debate about the pro’s and cons of this divisive movie. I can only give you my personnel opinion which I think was shared by a number of the audience but not, I must say, by all those that were present.
Euphemia Gray.
This humourless Victorian period drama tells the true story of Scottish born Euphemia Gray (Dakota Fanning) who married the art critic John Ruskin (a rather unconvincing Greg Wise) when she was 19 year old and he was 37. She left her husband without the marriage being consummated and after it was annulled she married the Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) in 1855.  
John Ruskin.
Directed by Richard Laxton, best known for his television work, it has a screenplay written by Emma Thompson, who also appears in the film as Elizabeth Lady Eastlake an art critic in her own right and wife of Sir Charles Eastlake who was the director of London’s National Art Gallery. The film's release was delayed by lawsuits alleging that the Thomson’s script was plagiarised from earlier dramatisations of the same story but she won her case and the movie was eventually released to mixed reviews two years after it was completed.
John Everett Millais.
This is in fact another story about cruelty to women, which I am sure we are all aware happens in all works of life. Earlier this week I saw The Homesman (2014) that dealt with the way women were treated in America’s mid west farming community. Now we get the same problem but involving the rich and privileged classes. The difference is wealth and how in the upper echelons of English society the problem is dealt with in an entirely different way, approaching people with the right connections, and the money to engage men of legal standing to “serve papers” – problem solved!!
Something about this painting brings to mind Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue? (
The movie is very much like the John Ruskin portrayed on our screens, a great lump of cold emotion. A story of a man who is incapable of giving what his wife what she most desires: love, happiness and respect. But again I’m drawn to say that there can’t be a less engaging story to make a film about.  And like the Scottish locations chosen for the film it is a stark and emotionless tale of people that are not very likeable - really that sums up the film for me?   

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