The Electrical Life of Louis Wain
Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy and Andrea Riseborough all shine in this richly detailed, fabulously eccentric portrait of the Victorian cat painter.
The film charts Louis’ (Cumberbatch) life from the point he employs Emily Richardson (Foy) as a governess to his younger siblings. A minor scandal between the two, who have already fallen in love, results in their marriage, but friction between family members remains a constant. As does the hardship of making a living, which Louis does as an illustrator for a variety of publications. But it is through his penchant for cats and the wild imagination that brings them to life that Louis gradually makes a name for himself.
Will Sharpe, the actor-director who recently impressed in the drama Giri/Haji, brilliantly conjures up the world through Louis’ eyes. Rather than offer up the usual portrait of Victorian Britain, Sharpe, working with cinematographer Erik Wilson (Paddington 2, The Double), imagines the world as a phantasmagoria of colour and animation, within everyday life. Cumberbatch perfectly embodies Louis in a performance that is a world away from his role in The Power of the Dog. Equally impressive are Foy and Riseborough, as well as co-stars Toby Jones, Hayley Squires and Stacy Martin. And with Nic Cave playing H.G. Wells, who could resist this?