When we are young, we may dream of marriage and the life that follows. But like many dreams, reality does not match the fantasy.
In the 2014 film, Effie Gray, the title character whose full name is Euphemia Chalmers Gray (Dakota Fanning) is 19 when she marries the much older writer John Ruskin (Greg Wise). What starts out to be a good match goes south fast. John refuses to consummate their marriage. Needing the physical and emotional attention she should be getting from her husband, Effie turns to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Effie also has a friend in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (Emma Thompson). After five years of marriage Effie has to make a choice. She could stay in her empty and loveless marriage. Or, she could defy the strict standards of the Victorian era and find the happiness she deserves.
I truly enjoyed this movie. Written by Thompson, it has the usual beats of BPD (British Period Drama), but it is more than what the viewer expects. It is a story of female empowerment in an era in which women had no power. Based on Gray’s life, it is powerful, emotional, and a reminder that us females not only have a voice, we have the right to use it.
The greatest love in the world is a parent’s love for their child.
In the 2001 film, I Am Sam, Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is a single father with a mental handicap caring for his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning). The problem is that Lucy is growing up and is starting to exceed her father’s emotional and mental capabilities.
Concerned that Sam is unable to care for his daughter, Lucy is taken away from him by the authorities. Sam turns to Rita Harrison Williams (Michelle Pfeiffer) to help him re-gain custody of his daughter. Rita, a high-profile attorney who usually represents clients who can pay large sums, is initially hesitant to take the case pro bono. Will Rita take the case and if she does, will Sam regain custody of his daughter?
This movie could have easily gone in the direction of the schmaltzy overworked drama. Thankfully, it does not. For all of the stuff that is said in the media (and the tabloids especially) about Sean Penn, he is an amazing actor. What makes his performance radiate beyond the screen and his character’s limitations is Sam’s love for his daughter. While he does not understand much of the world, he knows that his daughter is his world and he will fight to keep her in his life.
Michelle Pfeiffer puts in another standout performance with this role. Rita may have achieved much in her life, but there is something missing. What I truly appreciated about her character arc is the emotional journey Rita goes on.
But the standout performance goes to Dakota Fanning. At the then young age of 7, not only does she hold her own with her costars who are decades older than she is, but her performance is shows a maturity that went beyond her youth.