Mary Shelley Review
For a story that mainstream audiences might not know, Mary Shelley gives them something intriguing and fresh while feeling socially relevant. It can definitely feel abstract at times, but doesn’t let viewers feel too lost with what is happening on-screen.
The film gives us a closer look into the life of Mary Shelley (Elle Fanning), the creator behind Frankenstein, as she begins her interest in horror novels. She begins a constantly toxic relationship with a young poet named Percy Shelley (Douglass Booth) that begins to lead her to create her world-renowned novel. However, once inspiration hits, Shelley is filled with doubt and scrutiny as she tries to get her first work off the ground.
While it may be set in the early 1800s, the material feels very fresh and audiences won’t feel like they are just watching a long history lesson. Rather they will feel like they are getting a small glimpse into the author’s struggles. There’s also no language barriers and no real feelings of the material being totally out of touch so audiences won’t feel like they don’t understand what the characters are discussing.
Except when the film as some abstract shots and moments that feel randomly placed in the film. Most of these moments are definitely put there for a more artsy and indie feel, but ultimately feels unnecessary and weird. Viewers will forget about these moments and not feel like it matters much to the plot anyway.
Fanning is excellent as Shelley capturing the acclaimed authors strong-willed personality and desire to be unique. Her chemistry with Booth is also pretty solid and audiences will be able to understand to highs and lows of their relationship. However, the rest of the cast can’t ever match the same energy and often times feel too unimportant or trying too hard to be relevant in the story.
The film’s attempts to give viewers exact insights to Shelley’s creation of the iconic monster can also feel a little bit obvious but overall fit to the film’s plot and Shelley’s personality. The film’s greatest strength is honestly making Mary Shelley someone interesting to learn about. Many who do not know of Shelley’s work might not have been interested in her whatsoever, but thanks to the film’s more centered story and Fanning’s portrayal audiences will actual feel something for her. Not to mention, that Shelley’s struggles as a female writer is something that is very timely and keeps itself in viewers mind as they leave the theater.
So while not a perfect glimpse of the horror literature icon, Mary Shelley pulls out some solid performances, unique insights into the young author’s life, and give viewers an impactful female story that they wouldn’t expect to see.