Latest WAIN News
Jan 2, 2022
Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy star in this affecting biopic of the Victorian painter whose enthusiasms were overtaken by mental illness ‘Churning chaos’: Benedict Cumberbatch as Louis Wain. Photograph: © 2021 StudioCanal Sun 2 Jan 2022 06.00 EST A hundred-plus years before cat memes became ubiquitous, the work of the artist Louis Wain was the advance guard in a feline charm offensive. His playful, anthropomorphised illustrations of grinning kittens took Victorian society by storm. This suitably eccentric biopic from director and co-writer Will Sharpe , with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role, takes Wain’s art as an initial visual key, but goes further, using everything from a heightened palette to woozy Dutch camera angles to shimmering auras to convey Wain’s unsteady mental state. The artist was, not to put too fine a point on it, delusional. As the film tells it, he believed that cats were evolving to communicate with humans, and that they would ultimately turn blue; he was obsessed with the idea of electricity, but believed it to be a free-floating entity that drifted around the ether. But in all the churning chaos in Wain’s mind, there was a place of calm reserved for his wife, Emily (Claire Foy). Through her, and their all-too-brief marriage, he was able to tune out the noise and into the beauty of the world around him. Like Wain’s art, the film is superficially twee – characters are referred to as “nosy poseys” at one point – but under the kitsch is something more rewarding: an affecting portrait of a creative but troubled man.