It is not, I trust, too inside baseball to point out that “Effie Gray,” about the dysfunctional marriage between the famous Victorian art critic John Ruskin (Greg Wise) and his teenage Scottish bride, Effie (Dakota Fanning), was tied up for two years because of plagiarism lawsuits (both unsuccessful) concerning its screenplay by Emma Thompson, who also has a small role in the film.
The film’s somewhat notorious cachet is in marked contrast to the film itself, which is tastefully dour. Wise, who is noticeably older than the 29-year-old Ruskin was at the time the events occurred in real life, gives a tense, implacable performance, and Fanning is touching. The movie, however, directed by Richard Laxton, could use a lot more oomph. Grade: B- (Rated PG-13 for thematic and sexual content, and some nudity.)