'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain': Benedict Cumberbatch puts on a compelling show

Cumberbatch breathes life into the character of Louis Wain, from his idiosyncrasies, his rise to fame, and tragedies that shaped his career


                            'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain': Benedict Cumberbatch puts on a compelling show
Benedict Cumberbatch as Louis Wain in 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' (YouTube/Amazon Prime Video)
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The life of an artist is never an easy one. Creativity sometimes comes with its own price and can often pave the way to a hard and unforgiving life. And while it may seem like there is little to no respite, artists often trudge on, creating relentlessly, simply because it is who they are. 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' recounts Wain's own journey through his life and while he considered himself to be many things and at the end of it, a 'part-time illustrator', art was inevitable an extension of his very being.

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Starring Benedict Cumberbatch the movie follows the life of artist Louis Wain "whose playful, sometimes even psychedelic pictures helped to transform the public's perception of cats forever."
If you're looking for other current movie titles to check out, you might want to consider -- 'Electric Jesus', 'Home Sweet Home Alone', and 'Apex'.

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The storytelling itself maintains a simple enough approach, as viewers see Wain's art progress along with his own life entering a spiral of sorts. The first half of the movie is lighthearted, as it focuses on introducing Louis Wain to the audience, with all his idiosyncrasies on full display, reiterating the fact that for Wain, art came so naturally to him, he almost never gave it a second thought. His relationship with his family and his courtship with Emily Richardson seems rushed almost, giving little to no insight into his relationship with his mother or sisters, save for Caroline, played by Andrea Riseborough. The end of the first half offers a glimpse of just how profound Emily's impact would be and how Wain's attitude to his work remains unchanged. However, the point of pivot now is that he has found his unlikely muse. 

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Wain is a man of many layers formed by his circumstances and the situations he's had to delve with, and Cumberbatch, in a manner that's expected of him, portrays the same wonderfully. Wain's life, as harsh as it makes seem, goes through the lifecycle of a tragic artist -- a few fleeting moments of highs, followed by a tragic end. It's a familiar fate met by many creative geniuses, but Cumberbatch's portrayal of Wain breathes life into the character. The second half is where one's heart goes out to Wain, when now, frail and broken, he feels as though he has failed. Having dealt with the loss of the closest people in his life, with his sisters still in debt, Wain role as a brother and a son seems to have weighed heavy on him. Until he is reminded that his work truly brought joy in ways that he was unable to fathom.

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Andrea Riseborough's work as Caroline Wain stands out as the oldest Wain daughter and the caretaker of the family, thrust into the role of caregiver. Riseborough brings Caroline's passive-aggressive anger and frustration to the screen as she relentlessly tries to help the Wain family navigate through their mounting debt, Claire's mental illness and later on, Wain's erratic behaviour. Both the older Wain siblings are the ones that viewers truly get insight into. All in all the movie paints a vivid picture of an artist well ahead of his time. 

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You can watch 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain' from November 5, 2021 onwards on Amazon Prime Video.