Encouragingly, this new version emphasizes the agency of Effie Gray (Dakota Fanning), the teen bride to prominent art critic John Ruskin. The eventual annulment of the marriage between Ruskin and his much younger wife was a scandal in Victorian England, not least because Gray contended that their five-year marriage had never been consummated. Not surprisingly, the outgoing socialite began an affair with one of her husband’s proteges, the pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, whom she eventually married and had eight children with — though that fact is never mentioned in this trailer.
Gray’s life has been adapted in plays, films, even an opera, and now it finds another treatment in the screenplay by Emma Thompson, who co-stars (in a fright wig) as an older woman who urges Effie not to waste the rest of her life trapped in an unhappy marriage. Adding to the period-piece pleasures is the film’s painterly beauty, which seems inspired by Ruskin’s love of art.
Julie Walters, Claudia Cardinale, Robbie Coltraine, and Tom Sturridge co-star.