‘Mary Shelley’ movie review: ‘Frankenstein’ author biopic starring Elle Fanning is an excellent story of sorrow and strength

‘Mary Shelley’ movie review: ‘Frankenstein’ author biopic starring Elle Fanning is an excellent story of sorrow and strength

The author is most well-known for her classic tale of horror and the film focuses on how the Gothic novel was conceived during an ill-fated trip to Geneva

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Elle Fanning stars as the author of 'Frankenstein' in biopic 'Mary Shelley'.
Photo courtesy of IFC Films.

Romance, drama, and sorrow abound in Mary Shelley, a new biopic about the famed author of Frankenstein.

The film follows the young Mary Wollstonecraft-Godwin (Elle Fanning) as she rebels against her parents, runs away with the radical poet Percey Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth) – taking her impulsive sister Claire Clairmont (Bel Powley) along for the ride, too – and embarks on an ill-fated trip to Switzerland with the decadent Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge).

Although the wild, fiery spirit of her mother, the feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, lives on in the teenage Mary, both her ideals and strength of character are tested as her world becomes increasingly bleak.

Her new life with Shelley – who conveniently forgets to tell her he is already married – is far from rosy, and she finds herself living in poverty, consumed by grief at the loss of her newborn baby.

But as all traces of happiness begin to slip away, Mary – who has also inherited her mother’s way with words – finds solace in her writing. During one stormy night in Geneva, Byron wages a bet with his guests to see who can come up with the scariest story. Mary is the only one to take the challenge seriously.

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The resulting work is known today as one of the greatest Gothic novels ever written. But in Mary ShelleyFrankenstein is presented not as a tale of horror, but of pity - the tale of a helpless creature abandoned by those it loves, just like Mary herself.

With an excellent performance by Fanning and a solid supporting cast, Mary Shelley will challenge viewers to see both the author and her creation in a new light. For fans of dark period dramas and films with a strong female lead, this is a must-see.

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