‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’

An odd, sad tale that beautifully captures autism through Wain’s own behaviour, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain both entertains and disturbs.

Confronted with mental health throughout his life, Wain (Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog, The Courier) was unsuitable for the responsibility of a family consisting of his mother and five younger sisters (none of whom ever married). Ever the dilettante as artist and composer, further 19th century social controversy was courted when he married the family governess, Emily (Claire Foy – First Man, TV’s The Crown). Relative stability and happiness was short-lived – but through Wain’s humorous sketching of cats, a degree of fame is achieved.

Mixing realism with scenes of fantasy, director Will Sharpe (Black Pond, TV’s Landscapers) captures the eccentricity of life around Wain. The dour, down-to-earth sister Caroline (Andrea Riseborough – Brighton Rock, Battle of the Sexes) struggles with the family realities whilst Wain gives away his cat pictures lost in his own troubled head. It’s a deeply sad narrative imbued with charm and sweetness – and Cumberbatch as ever is eminently watchable.

Rating: 62%

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