Movie Review: In a Busy Year for Benedict Cumberbatch, He’s the Best Part of an Entertaining “The Electric Life of Louis Wain”
As we have learned from the history of art and cinema, the most deeply inspired and influential artists are also mad or at least unstable to an uncomfortable degree. From director Will Sharpe (black pond) tells the true story of British artist Louis Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch), who rose to prominence in the late 19th century for his surreal paintings of cats, whom he believed to be as viable a household animal as dogs . While it doesn’t seem strange today, back then cats weren’t considered to be housebound animals. But Wain’s work showed them to be adorable, fuzzy little beasts, which ultimately wowed children and adults alike. And while this influence and success should have made him not only famous but rich, he was terrible with money and spent most of that life deeply in debt, with only a brief period of happiness as well.
Told with charm by Olivia Colman, Louis Wain’s electric life gives us the life of Wain of living in crowded conditions with his mother and a host of single sisters (including the bossy elder, played the great Andrea Riseborough). Some of the younger ones need a tutor, which is why Emily Richardson (Claire Foy) is invited and understandably Wain is intrigued not only by her intelligence and charm, but also by her ambition to paint. In addition to painting, Wain has a host of other interests, including the study of electricity and the mysterious and invisible way it connects us all (he thinks cats conduct electricity better than most. animals, which is why he is attracted to them). He believes that an understanding of electricity will lead to a better understanding of the world, of humanity, and even of how to deal with the unstable state of his own brain. At one point, I think he theorized about the possible benefits of shock therapy, without ever trying it. But it is his love for Emily that ultimately brings him together and allows him to focus on his work, which includes his main source of income: being an illustrator for a local newspaper, working for an acting editor. by Toby Jones.
But when tragedy befalls Wain, he is plunged into a depression from which he never really recovers for the rest of his life (which takes us to the 1930s). Cumberbatch gives us one of the most eccentric and deliberate performances of his career, but it’s hard not to recognize that he’s a more bearable character when Foy is there to balance the weird and the glitchy. The movie has a bevy of famous faces appearing for interesting cameos including Taika Waititi, Richard Ayoade, and Jamie Demetriou, but it’s Wain and his warped artistic mind that propels the story, even though it’s destined to crash against it. a brick wall. We can’t help but feel for the man, and the filmmaker’s efforts to give us a glimpse of his sometimes delusional spirit are both extraordinary and slightly confusing.
The real reason to see Louis Wain’s electric life is to marvel at the Cumberbatch lineup in 2021. His performances in this film, The mail, Mauritanian, and the next one The power of the dog (who can showcase his best work to date) are so varied and risky that it’s hard not to finally recognize that he’s one of the best actors working right now. And who the hell knows what he’s gonna do Spider-Man: No Path Home. He’s an artist that I’m really excited to see in everything he does, and this is possibly his best year yet. Louis wain It might not be the strongest movie of the bunch, but Cumberbatch is exceptional in it.
The film is now in theaters in select theaters, including the Landmark Century Center Cinema.
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