Mary Shelley is ultimately the story of a woman finding her own voice and asserting her independence and that will be the heart of its appeal.
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Impressively shot and suffused with a righteous feminist fire, the film is undercut by a confused and clunky script and a fundamental lack of thematic focus, turning an extraordinary story into didactic and disjointed melodrama.
Shelley’s mistreatment by the literary elite because of her gender is a compelling, uniquely frustrating element and the film deprives us of the suitably grand exploration that it deserves.
Mary Shelley is a film at relentless pains to tell us how poetic and ethereal its heroine is, but without remotely grasping the political and philosophical underpinnings of her work.
If we spent a little less time on Mary and Percy, and a bit more watching Mary actually create, the result may have been different. Sadly, Mary Shelley is just not alive.
Mary Shelley is a luscious-looking spectacle, drenched in the colors and visceral sensations of nature, the sensuality of young lovers, the passionate disappointment of loss and betrayal. But above all it is a film about ideas that breaks out of the well-worn mold of period drama (partly, anyway) by reaching deeply into the mind of the extraordinary woman who wrote the Gothic evergreen Frankenstein.
This is clearly all fantastic material for a film, but the problems begin with the woeful miscasting of Elle Fanning as the title character, and continue from there.
In its final act, the film abandons its fruitful investigation of belief systems in favor of a simplistic articulation of Mary's inspiration.
For a film that chronicles the rise of a creator obsessed with reanimating the dead, Mary Shelley is utterly lifeless. It contains a sparkling and startlingly raw performance by Elle Fanning, but Haifaa Al-Mansour’s disappointing followup to her remarkable “Wadjda” doesn’t push beyond paint-by-numbers biopic posturing
A film desperately in need of an electric charge, Mary Shelley is simply another cinematic corpse on the table.