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On the surface the movie looks like a traditional biopic, but in the end the oddness and quaintness win out.

I had never heard of Louis Wain, though I've crossed paths with plenty of his much imitated cat drawings. But certainly if I had known him, I would have immediately known it was a great idea to make a movie out of his fascinating life, even if it probably would never have been as odd, quaint and eclectic as The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is.

Director and co-writer Will Sharpe might on the surface take the traditional biopic route by guiding the viewer past all the important events of the protagonist's storied life, the picture never feels like a standard, safe effort.

For one, the movie is filmed in the unusual, almost square academy ratio, while Sharpe also plays with colour schemes, contrast and old-school, low-key visual trickery. The actors add an intriguing artificiality to their performance, with Benedict Cumberbatch delivering a fine turn in the lead role and getting excellent support from the likes of Andrea Riseborough, Claire Foy and Toby Jones.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain does fall into sentimental traps towards the end, but overall the film is definitely worth about 100 minutes of your time.

release: 2021

director: Will Sharpe

starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones


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