The release of “Effie Gray” was delayed for almost two years because of plagiarism lawsuits against the film’s screenwriter (and co-star) Emma Thompson, who won an Academy Award for her adaptation of “Sense and Sensibility.”
As The Playlist previously reported, “The period drama was completed 18 months ago, but the movie got bogged down in legal disputes, with two separate writers (Eve Pomerance and Gregory Murphy, who both wrote plays and existing screenplays on the subject) claiming the film leans too liberally on their existing works.” These charges have since been dropped and the British biographical drama is her first adult-centric screenplay (having written both “Nanny McPhee” scripts) since the Oscar-winning “Sense and Sensibility.”
Directed by Richard Laxton (“An Englishman in New York”), the film stars Dakota Fanning as the titular character Euphemia “Effie” Gray, wife of great 19th century art historian and critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise). Their marriage went famously unconsummated, and was further complicated by Effie’s love affair with pre-Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Emma Thompson takes the role of author and art historian Lady Elizabeth Eastlake, a friend who encourages Effie to have her loveless marriage annulled.
Be warned, nothing is wrong with your computer’s brightness setting — the trailer is just very dark. It features dim and hazy landscapes stylized like one of Millais’ dreamy paintings, with solitary shocks of bright color and a watercolor-glow. Fanning, almost unrecognizable with mousy brown hair, is pale-faced and repressed, cloaking her sexuality beneath layers and corsets in keeping with the era’s gender politics. It remains to be seen whether Fanning has the allure to carry this period piece, in the footsteps of Kate Winslet or Thompson before her.
The film opens in the U.S. on April 3. Check out the domestic trailer below: