Review by Dan Skip Allen
It remains to be a standard in Hollywood and abroad that if a story exists of a man, woman, or child that can be turned into a film or tv show, somebody will produce it and make it. Some stories are more strange than others. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is one of those. It is a true-life story that is based on an extraordinary man, though a very complicated and strange one who is well known despite his trying not to be.
Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch) is the only man in a family of seven: six sisters and himself. He is set as the sole provider of his family. He has to find a bride in good standing and keep the family going because his sisters aren't doing well on that front. A meeting with Sir William Ingram (Tobey Jones) would change his life irrevocably and forever. His suggestion to Wain would be to become a painter of cats.
He would eventually find a beautiful wife though, Emily (Claire Foy). Wain's life isn't easy though despite his fame as a painter and his beautiful bride. The fortune he and his sisters hoped for him to gain from his paintings was fleeting at best. Illnesses struck his family and this caused more difficulty for him. His standing in society became very difficult for him to maintain. He held on to one thing though: his belief in static electricity, his other passion.
The film is narrated by Academy Award winner Olivia Colman. Her dulcet voice lends itself to this fascinating story perfectly. The thing is that's one of the only redeeming qualities of this film. Director Will Sharpe chose to film this movie in a more muted style. The cinematography wasn't very good at all. The camera work was shady and shadowy, the colors were bland and uninspiring. This film had a depressing look to it and that made the story seem depressing as well.
The title of this film is a little odd and that kind of reminds me of how odd this film really is. Despite Cumberbatch and company's best efforts, this story and acting are lackluster at best. He has played many characters throughout history in his career. This isn't one of the best, unfortunately. This story isn't that interesting either. It's better off that it's on streaming because I highly doubt anybody would pay to go see this in a theater. I will see Cumberbatch in the next project and hopefully it's better than this.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is now in theaters and hits Prime on November 5.