Mary Shelley - This Movie Doesn't Quite Rock
Dir: Haifaa Al-Mansour
Starring Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Tom Sturridge, Bel Powley, Joanne Froggat, Stpehen Dillane
Much like Frankenstein’s own monster, Mary Shelley is a ragbag of various unmatched pieces, stitched together in often broad strokes, and ultimately not overly successful in its creation. But still intriguing to look at.
Fanning clearly dominates and the film would be a much lesser thing without her. She brings an intelligence and modernity to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the 18 year old poetic soul who falls for the beauty and freedom embracing debauchery of Percy Shelly – Booth, all angel looks and insouciant insolence. Mary runs away with her romantic writer and after enduring love and grief in equal measure, they find themselves in Vienna in the even more debauched company of Sturridge’s delightfully excessive and unpleasant Lord Byron. Here the film descends into a sustained bout of excess in which everyone just comes across as unpleasant and the group turns into something of a collective prick, more than the ground breaking purveyors of a new freedom-embracing society they desire to be. Thankfully, they all decide to go to their rooms and write a story instead and Frankenstein is unleashed.
At times, the movie is remarkably handed – Mary sees a show when a frog is galvanised back into “life” and, all too literally gets the “spark” to write her book - but Fanning soldiers on nobly, even if her later proto-feminist rant is woefully misjudged by all concerned.
Left us fondly remembering Ken Russell’s Gothic by the end. Not too sure this is a good thing.
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