December 30

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (12A)

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (12A)

Director: Will Sharpe

Runtime: 110 minutes

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Claire Foy, Andrea Riseborough, Toby Jones, Sharon Rooney, Aimee Lou Wood, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin, Phoebe Nicholls, Adeel Akhtar, Asim Chaudhry, Richard Ayoade, Julian Barratt, Sophia di Martino, Taika Waititi, Nick Cave, Olivia Coleman

Synopsis: Louis Wain was many things during his incredible life: artist, inventor, entrepreneur and caretaker. After adopting a stray kitten, he went on to paint the extraordinary images of cats that made him world famous.


The film is directed by BAFTA Winner Will Sharpe [Flowers (2016), Giri/Haji (2019), Landscapers (2021)] from a story by Simon Stephenson [Luca (2021), Paddington 2 (2017)], with a screenplay by Simon Stephenson and Will Sharpe. The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is the extraordinary true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wain, portrayed by Academy Award® Nominee and BAFTA-winning Benedict Cumberbatch [Doctor Strange (2016, 2022), Patrick Melrose (2018), The Imitation Game (2014)], whose playful, sometimes even psychedelic pictures helped to transform the public’s perception of cats forever. Moving from the late 1800s through to the 1930s, we follow the incredible adventures of this inspiring, unsung hero, as he seeks to unlock the “electrical” mysteries of the world and, in so doing, to better understand his own life and the profound love he shared with his wife Emily Richardson played by Emmy® Winner and BAFTA Nominee Claire Foy [A Very British Scandal (2021),The Crown (2016-20), First Man (2018)].

The film is based on the true story of eponymous English artist, Louis Wain, and charts the eccentric artist’s rise to prominence at the end of the 19th century.

After his father’s death, Louis Wain (another wonderful performance from the multi-talented Cumberbatch) tries to look after his five sisters and his mother as a freelance artist. His luck turns when he is offered a job as an illustrator at the Illustrated London News and finds love. After adopting a stray kitten called Peter, Wain begins creating the unusual, playful and psychedelic paintings of cats that became his legacy and also a way for Wain to better understand himself and the profound love that he shared with his wife, Emily Richardson.

There is an outstanding ensemble cast, of which all of the main cast characters appeared in Will Sharpe’s debut film Flowers, including narrator, Olivia Coleman. Nick Cage appears as H.G. Wells. Beautiful cinematography by Erik Wilson and an atmospheric score by Arthur Sharpe add to the great pleasures for lovers of period dramas, as long as viewers are prepared to deal with the tears they might shed about Wain’s difficult and often sad life.

Will Sharpe keeps up the contrasting tones and excellent pacing of this engaging film, with its mixture of romance – for people and cats – and life and the world in general, as well as class/social/psychological drama, with some added comedy thrown in. Quirky, ambitious, charming and deeply moving, sparked by the chemistry of a pair of well-matched leads, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain honours its real-life subject by adding a dash of whimsy to the standard biopic formula.

In cinemas


Images courtesy of: Studio Canal