15 April 2015 | natashabowiepinky
Shorter would have been an improvement...
It's one thing arranging all the finest acting talent in a film, and having great period detail and costume design, but it's totally another to keep you invested enough for 110 minutes of your life. Effie Gray just about manages to get over the finish line, but not with any great impact. Expect to reasonably entertained, but to stay perfectly still in your seat (with the occasional glance at your watch).
Effie is stuck in a loveless marriage... Her husband is an art critic... Completely under the thumb of his demanding parents... Who insist he stays at home e.g, forget about the newlyweds getting a place of their own. Her new partner is obsessed with his work, to the point of barely acknowledging her existence. He doesn't even show any interest in consummating their nuptials, for instance... The first night he sees her naked, he bursts into tears and runs out the room. Hmm... Can you say 'issues'?
Then, during an impromptu trip to Venice, she runs into a young painter who is everything her hubby is not... empathic, fun-loving, and deeply in love with her. Sadly, she's stuck with Mr Grump, for the simple reason that if she did split up with him, it would ruin her family name... And besides, getting a divorce back in the 19th century was SLIGHTLY more difficult than it is now. The situation is complicated further by a strange illness she has, which involves copious amounts of hair loss. Hmm... Who'd have though boredom and enforced virginity would have such a toll on your health?
With Effie Gray, you get the distinct impression that lots of the scenes which involve people pottering about in front of beautiful vistas, and staring in the distance while the music swells in the background, could have been dramatically cut... To no great loss of the plot. My theory is, some self-inflated 'important' movies such as this almost feel obligated to unnaturally expand the length beyond what the script requires, to make it FEEL more epic. This tends to not work (It certainly doesn't here) and just leaves quite a bit of dead air.
Still, as I mentioned, the cast full of stalwarts such as Julie Walters and Emma Thompson all do their part to keep things ticking over nicely, and Dakota Fanning does the uphill trajectory of her career no harm at all with an emotionally wrought performance, backed up with a dead-on English accent. In fact, there's not a lot wrong here that couldn't have been avoided with the judicious use of a metaphorical pair of scissors. About 20 minutes off the top should do it, luv.
As it stands, I was mildly interested when I should have been enthralled. Less it sometimes more, ya know? 6/10