“English artist Louis Wain rises to prominence at the end of the 19th century for his surreal cat paintings that seemed to reflect his declining sanity.” -IMDB
I’ll start off by saying that one of my favorite movie-going experiences is when, halfway through the film, I start saying to myself “there’s no way this is real.” Then I do my google searching and find out that it is all absolutely true! That is the experience I had while watching The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.
The movie’s namesake was an English artist and inventor, best known for his drawings of anthropomorphized cats. A delightful start, huh?
The film follows Wain throughout the course of his adult life, as he cares for his mother and five younger sisters after the death of their father, falls in love with and marries his sisters’ governess, adopts a cat named Peter with his wife, is widowed, becomes renowned for drawing cats based on his own precious Peter, and slowly descends into poverty and alleged schizophrenia (there still discussions on whether this is truly what Wain was battling). The movie is incredibly tender in the way it handles these mental health issues and the way it handles many subjects of the era including sexism and classism, among others.
Although I am one of those people that will watch any and all films set in the Victorian era, I think many people are turned off by them because they focus so much on the stuffiness of the era, that they sometimes forget to humanize their characters. This is not the case with Louis Wain, you feel that you are watching a real family facing real issues that could have occurred in any time period. We also see charity and kindness in those around this family, which is rare to see in Victorian-era stories.
Ultimately, I found this to be an incredibly beautiful, deep, and touching film which ultimately left both me and my husband, Mike, with a smile on our faces and tears in our eyes. If you’re looking for an easy watch, this may not be the movie. However, if you can make it through, I believe you’ll feel happier for having watched it.
Rating: 9 out 10 Claire Bears
If you like this movie, you should also watch: Encounter, Mad to be Normal
Streaming: Amazon Prime
With: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy
Directed By: Will Sharpe