I cannot remember a film I felt such consuming anticipation for like Effie Gray. Much like Desperate Romantics, I was so eager for it to be here that it overcame any reticence I felt about having fact brought to the screen as entertainment, but if Desperate Romantics has taught me anything, it is knowing a lot about a subject can colour the way you view poetic licence. I better start with what I liked about the film...
|I want everything she wore. Even the man-repelling nightie.|
|Worst Mother-in-Law ever. Seriously, puts mine to shame.|
|Effie with Rossetti, sorry, Millais.|
It's no secret that I'm Team Ruskin, so it's not a surprise that I didn't really like the hatchet job done on the man who ensured the continuation of Pre-Raphaelite art. However, the title of the movie is Effie Gray, and so in many ways all the problems, the layers of character that explained his behaviour were unnecessary. John Ruskin was unknowable to Effie and so it could be argued that he should remain so to the audience. There is no doubt that she hated him by the end of their marriage and all his imperfection, cruelty and damn-right weirdness should be reflected in the film that bears her name. However, and this is a massive however, a film is believed to be unbiased in its narration. We are shown scenes of cruelty strong and poetic and they seem to be fact, but really none of what you see is pure truth save that Ruskin and Effie were married and then it was annulled due to non-consummation, all else is 'he said - she said'. I only hope that viewers of the film seek out both sides of the story before making up their minds, and maybe the best thing about the film is that it will bring more people in to appreciate Pre-Raphaelite painting and the fascinating stories behind the art.
Effie Gray opens nationwide from today.