Movie Review – The Electric Life of Louis Wain (2021)

The Electric Life of Louis Wain2021.

Directed by Will Sharpe.
With Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Sharon Rooney, Aimee Lou Wood, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin and Taika Waititi.


The extraordinary true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wayne and the legacy he created.


Since his brilliant turn as British super sleuth Sherlock Holmes, on the critically acclaimed BBC TV show sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch was an unstoppable force of nature. From being cast as the MCU’s Magical Sorcerer Supreme to critical acclaim for Jane Campion’s pastoral psychological drama The power of the dog last year, the talented Brit made a name for himself as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after entertainers. One of Cumberbatch’s singular talents is his innate ability to completely disappear into whatever role he chooses to take on, whether in a big-budget blockbuster or a modestly funded indie, there’s no doubt. on the man’s commitment to his job. It’s just amazing. 2021 has been quite a busy year for Cumberbatch, starting with Kevin Macdonald’s heartbreaking and real story Mauritanianhe then lent his vocal talents to Marvel’s multiversal animated extravaganza What if…? and followed it with Campion’s poignant revisionist western The power of the dog. And it was somewhere between the aforementioned productions that Cumberbatch decided to play the role of eccentric British artist Louis Wain, in The Electric Life of Louis Wain.

The film follows the journey of social inept Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch) as he transforms from virtual stranger to global sensation, due to the growing popularity of his cartoons of anthropomorphized cats and kittens, which changed the way which society perceived felines at the time. Meanwhile, he falls in love with his sister’s governess Emily (Claire Foy), is disowned by his family, travels to America at the invitation of William Randolph Hearst and suffers from multiple mental breakdowns. In short, the film is an emotional roller coaster ride and it’s all thanks to Cumberbatch’s exceptionally layered performance.


In the span of a year, the talented actor has shown off the huge range he possesses. In The power of the doghe was the epitome of toxic masculinity when in The Electric Life of Louis Wain, he plays an introverted and emotionally fragile eccentric. It’s a performance that will definitely tug at your heart strings and leave you on the verge of tears at times. The character’s poor business acumen leaves the family in considerable financial distress time and time again, but you only feel sympathy for the tortured and vulnerable soul played by Cumberbatch. Cast Claire Foyfirst man) alongside Cumberbatch was a masterful move that pays huge dividends. She is the delicate counterweight that keeps things steady and focused in their hectic lives. The on-screen chemistry the duo share is both genuine and beautiful, and because of it, the intimate moments between them feel so much more compelling and powerful. Andrea Riseborough (Possessor) shines as the constantly disapproving but loving sister Caroline and Toby Jones (Infinite) is equally memorable as Louis’ sympathetic employer, Sir William Ingram. There are also some surprising cameos, featuring Taika Waititi, Nick Cave, Julian Barratt and Richard Ayoade among others, which provide a few moments of unintended levity, especially during some of the film’s more serious scenes.

So far, Will Sharpe’s efforts have mostly been confined to the small screen, with dark comedies such as flowers and Landscapers. So, The Electric Life of Louis Wain is pretty much his first foray into full-scale film production. For any director, it’s a tall order to make the leap from small-scale indies to something bigger, but Sharpe succeeds admirably in the task, delivering a thoroughly engaging yet refreshing biographical drama. What the films successfully accomplish is give audiences a glimpse into the beautifully chaotic and deeply troubled mind of Louis Wain. You “feel” each of its wildly erratic emotional states through the stunning visuals, and DOP Erik Wilson’s kaleidoscopic cinematography plays a central role in this process. Some scenes are simply magical to see. Arthur, Will Sharpe’s brother, offers a bittersweet and poignant score that is both traditional and unconventional. The perfect companion to this touching and idiosyncratic story.


The Electric Life of Louis Wain will break your heart. This is a moving and carefully crafted portrait of a sensitive artist who defied norms and conventions, to give birth to a unique legacy in every sense of the word.

Scintillating Myth Rating – Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Hasitha Fernando is a part-time doctor and a full-time movie buff. Follow him on Twitter via @DoctorCinephile for regular updates on the world of entertainment.