Effie Gray

Rated 3.0

Effie Gray was delayed by lawsuits since 2012, but its timely release makes it the second big-screen portrayal of 19th-century Scottish art critic John Ruskin in the last couple months. The broodingly handsome Ruskin, played by Greg Wise in director Richard Laxton's thoughtful but inert period drama Effie Gray, isn't a lisping buffoon like the one played by Joshua McGuire in Mike Leigh's Mr. Turner. He's far more loathsome—a cold, cruel, emotionless, impotent mama's boy, Ruskin weds his teenage protégé Effie (Dakota Fanning) and declines to consummate the marriage, interring her instead with his bizarre family and practically daring her not to stray. Emma Thompson wrote the contentious script, and gave herself a juicy, too-small part as the protective Lady Eastlake, but Laxton does nothing with it, and Fanning is not strong enough to carry the film. D.B.