TIFF 2021: The Electrical Life of Louis Wain dir. Will Sharpe

If one could transmute joy and tears of a life, or transform a dew dropped ray of sunlight, into a film, then the result may very well be Will Sharpe’s biopic on English artist (you know his work, whether you recognize the name or not), Louis Wain (a fantastic turn by Benedict Cumberbatch).

Sharpe’s tale follows Wain, and his five sisters, as he pursues countless hobbies, is enchanted by all things electrical, including personalities, and eventually love, in the form of the family’s governess, Emily Richardson (Claire Foy), much to the chagrin of the family’s self-appointed matriarch, Caroline (Andrea Riseborough).

Not only does his marriage to Emily go against societal conventions, his artistic skills revolutionise England with its own form of electricity, by anthropomorphizing cats in art, and transisitioning them from ‘mousers’ to household pets. He changed everything, while still pursuing his own patents and theories on electricity.

By turns eccentric, delightful, tragic, and joyous, the film commemerates live, love, art and cats. And as Olivia Colman’s narration guides us through the years, we can see the effect that the electrical current known as love can have on anyone.

Cumberbatch delivers an unequaled performance here that completely captivates, and Sharpe’s direction embraces the oddities of a life and celebrates them, allowing the viewer to recognise and revel in the fact that a life filled with love, art, and pets is a life well worth living.

A brilliant composition on the canvas of the silver screen, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain has two more digital screenings at TIFF, Monday and Friday.

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