Movie review: Mary Shelley
At only 20 years old, Elle Fanning has amassed over 50 films to her name. While not all were successful, she has carved out a reputation for being one of the most versatile actresses of her generation.
She is the perfect fit to play Mary Shelley, one of the most revered female English authors.
Fanning was 17 when she filmed the period romance, around the same age when Shelley penned the Gothic novel, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, in 1818.
My knowledge of Shelley is limited, but I know she lived a fascinating wild life.
A trailblazer in the 19th century, she was a fiercely independent free spirit who followed her heart instead of conforming to social norms.
She was also a budding writer since young, thanks to the influence of her father, the philosopher William Godwin.
Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, who died when Shelley was a baby, was also a renowned writer.
Fanning adequately captures Shelly's youthful spirit, and her strong performance is what drives this beautifully shot film.
However, the story of this amazing woman becomes second fiddle to her love life.
Granted, her passionate and inappropriate relationship with Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth) makes for a juicy story - he was married and they eloped.
Both actors look fabulous together - Booth is drop-dead dashing while Fanning is picture-perfect in her period frocks (although she sports some rather modern-looking beanies).
It is such a pity that Shelley's actual creation of Frankenstein becomes a rushed bookend to the movie. How she manages to get the book published is also glossed over.
The initial publication was anonymous because writing was not considered an appropriate profession for a lady at that time. Her name appeared only in the second edition about five years later, in 1823.
In a bid to make this biopic a mass-appeal romance, it is sad that the subtexts are lost in translation.
MOVIE: Mary Shelley
STARRING: Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley, Tom Sturridge, Ben Hardy, Stephen Dillane
DIRECTOR: Haifaa Al-Mansour
THE SKINNY: This so-called biopic follows teenager Mary Shelley’s (Fanning) passionate love affair with poet Percy Shelley (Booth), and how their tumultuous relationship inspired her to write the 1818 classic Frankenstein.