In the Dark

A Strange Romance This Was

Effie Gray
Produced by Sovereign Films 
Directed by Richard Laxton 
Screenplay by Emma Thompson 
Distributed by Adopt Films 

The only reason for making a movie centered on Euphemia Gray (Dakota Fanning) is sex.  Or, rather its absence.

This story of Effie, the first and only wife of the magisterially influential Victorian art critic and theorist John Ruskin (Greg Wise), comes to its point almost immediately by beginning with the Ruskins’ wedding night—a sad or laughable event, according to one’s prejudices.  Anyone at all acquainted with Ruskin knows or thinks he knows what happened.  When Effie disrobed at their bedside, Ruskin took one look and left the room in haste, not to return that evening.  The standard account is that he was shocked to see his 19-year-old bride sporting pubic hair.  At 29, the author of Modern Painters and The Seven Lamps of Architecture had only an aesthetic acquaintance with nude women by way of painting and statuary, in which they appeared remarkably hairless.  (Of course, there are several painters, to say nothing of photographers, who have since remedied this omission.  It’s the rare sculptor, however, who has solved this hirsute difficulty.)

For the next six years Ruskin lived a celibate life with Effie, until the girl could stand it...

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