Review of 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain'

the_electrical_life_of_louis_wain.jpg In Victorian England, Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch) is an eccentric and erratic sole son of a family of sisters who has tried his hands unsuccessfully at many things including composing music and playwrighting but finds a natural talent in drawing. Finding it difficult to provide an income for his family he reluctantly becomes the staff artist of The Illustrated London News under editor Sir William Ingram (Toby Jones). His life is turned upside down when Emily Richardson (Claire Foy) is hired as the governess for his sisters. The two fall in love and move to a house in Hampstead where they learn Emily has breast cancer. As Emily convalesces the couple take a stray kitten they call “Peter” as a pet which is unusual in Victorian times. As Emily passes Louis begins drawing pictures of cats in anthropomorphic situations that prove to be very popular with the public but since Louis has not patented his pictures he gets very little income. As income pressures build Louis' sanity comes under threat…

Based on a true story, “The Electrical Life of Louis Wain” is the tragic story of the amazingly manic Louis Wain who draws quickly in an attempt to keep his OCD under control. To think this is the story of a man who made his living drawing pictures of cats playing cards that brought laughter so so many is all the more tragic, never mind his tragic, though incredibly loving, marriage. Indeed, other than drawing his wife seems to have been the only source of joy in Louis' life. Despite the obvious mental issues of the characters the film very seldom descends into fantasy preferring instead to concentrate on the impact of these issues on their lives.

Cumberbatch is amazing as the dishevelled Louis Wain just trying to provide for his demanding family while Foy perfectly fits in as his loving wife. I have to admit that I will watch anything with Cumberbatch in it Toby Jones is somewhat cool as the well-meaning though hard-line businessman editor of the newspaper Louis works for, sticking by the talented Louis throughout his life.

An interesting if slightly troubling film of the tragic life of Louis Wain - A life of talent, love and loss. Just when you think it can't get any worse…A bit of a downer but interesting and worth a watch though not exactly full of action, more of a slow descent into some very dark places…

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2024-01-28

Directed by: Will Sharpe

Studio: Amazon Studios

Year: 2021

Length: 111 minutes

Genre: Melodrama