The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain

★★★

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is a new film directed by Will Sharpe. This film depicts the love, loss, fame and insanity endured by Louis Wain during the cause of his life. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Louis Wain, an eccentric and talented artist who finds fame with his illustrations of kittens.

He is bought up in a household that includes his mother, 5 sisters and a governess, Emily, portrayed by Claire Foy. Louis Wain falls in love with Emily, despite his family’s objection. One of the more interesting dynamics of this film is Louis Wain’s balancing his responsibility as the provider to all of his unmarried sisters whilst falling in love with a lowly governess. Andrea Riseborough plays the oldest sister, Caroline, and she represents the sisters that feel left behind by Louis Wain due to his marriage and successful career. Toby Jones makes up the core of the cast and portrays Sir William Ingram, a boss to Louis and a rare friend who guides him to be a successful illustrator.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain boasts many cameos that include Richard Ayoade, Julian Barrett, Asim Chaudry, Olivia Colman, and Sharon Rooney – all of which make this a who’s who of British sitcoms. There is also a fleeting and unnecessary appearance from Taika Waititi; I noticed he is bizarrely in the trailer, which is a tad disingenuous, although I appreciate it solely to bring in a bigger audience.

The highlight of this film is the relationship and chemistry between Emily and Louis. They are both outcasts in society and have some peculiarities; however, their connection felt so authentic they seemed utterly ordinary together – they were truly on the same frequency. This point is most evident when Emily tragically passes away, and it really packs an emotional punch during those scenes. This is a result of excellent writing and the deft performances by Cumberbatch and Foy. Unfortunately, the film loses its way after this turn of events, mainly because Louis Wain’s drivers and motivations are less noticeable.

Similar to the personalities on screen, the score was also peculiar. In particular, it regularly possessed a distinctive high note played on a string instrument which was surprisingly warming when accompanied by the arrangement.

The performance of Cumberbatch felt very familiar – an introverted, awkward genius; however, Louis Wain had a little more in the way of building relationships. It was a hybrid of Sherlock/Turing with a speck more comedic oddity, and for that, it was a little routine for Cumberbatch.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is a quirky and pleasant movie – it’s undoubtedly an intriguing character worthy of a biopic. It starts off strongly with the relationship being the focus; however, it does struggle to recover when that comes to an abrupt end.

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