Effie Gray (2014) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Based on the real-life scandal that shocked Victorian-era England, the film tells the story of Euphemia "Effie" Gray. At 19, she married the prominent art historian and critic John Ruskin, but Ruskin refused to consummate their marriage. Lonely and frustrated Effie is drawn to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, and finds a friend and champion in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake. After five years trapped in a loveless marriage, Effie will defy the rules of Victorian society...

  • A look at the scandalous love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his teenage bride Effie Gray, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • In "Effie Gray" Dakota Fanning plays the title character, Euphemia "Effie" Gray, wife of the 19th century's greatest art historian and critic, John Ruskin (Greg Wise). Ruskin's sexual dysfunction and his wife's sexual innocence and inexperience in the repressed atmosphere of Victorian England are further complicated by Effie's affair with pre-Raphaelite painter Sir John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge) after Effie poses for the artist and falls in love with him. Author and art historian Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (Emma Thompson, who wrote the screenplay), Effie's friend and champion, encourages her to seek an annulment from her husband. In order to prove non-consummation of the marriage, Effie is forced to undergo a physical examination that confirms her virginity after five years of marriage to Ruskin. During the trial, which creates a scandal and more discussion than the ongoing Crimean War, a doctor (Robbie Coltrane) testifies that the plaintiff is a virgin. The physical examination and embarrassing courtroom testimony about her intimate life induces a psychosomatic paralysis that lasts 10 days. The judge rules in Effie's favor, citing her husband's "incurable impotency." While her internationally renowned husband continues his busy professional and social life, Effie, a spirited, outgoing woman, is ousted from society and forbidden to attend any event where Queen Victoria is present. Her ostracism is alleviated by her marriage to Millais, with whom she will eventually have eight children.

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