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With its exuberant imagery (cats, tons of cats), picturesque Victorian shots, damask palette, strange camera angles, and old-fashioned screen proportions, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain might have been more than half too clever, aside from its amazing tenderness Depth of feeling and the brilliance of his main performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy. This celebration of singularity – eccentricity doesn’t do justice to the subject – was directed by Will Sharpe (UK dark comedy series Flowers) from a script he wrote with Simon Stephenson. It’s a love story that gently enters a feverish account of a man who keeps chaos at bay, a fictional biography that leaves you wanting more but beguiles with what’s there. (The film is currently showing in selected cinemas, the film will be streamed on Amazon Prime starting November 5th.)
The real Louis Wain came of age in England towards the end of the 19th century. For much of his life he worked as a commercial illustrator specializing in animals, including those displayed at livestock shows. He succeeded – especially and spectacularly, after starting to produce a large number of drawings of anthropomorphized cats, wonderfully funny creations that appeared in newspapers, magazines and children’s books. (If only this movie had been the screen version of “Cats”.)