‘Mary Shelley’ Review: Elle Fanning Sparkles Inside a Lifeless Biopic — Tiff

  • Indiewire
‘Mary Shelley’ Review: Elle Fanning Sparkles Inside a Lifeless Biopic — Tiff
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, with revelations as insightful as the “Frankenstein” author’s Wikipedia page. The film documents the portion of Shelley’s life dominated by her romance with poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and meanders toward the subsequent creation of her signature novel. As the budding writer hammers away at her craft, the film’s own structure and style weaken into nothing more than a thin fever dream.

Heightened emotions rule “Mary Shelley”; even the earliest moments of Shelley’s life saw tremendous tragedy. We first meet young Mary (then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) as she dawdles by her long-dead mother’s gravesite, her lone place of respite and calm — entirely weird,
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