The Electrical Life of Louis Wain is based on the life of the famous artist who garnered a lot of fame and became a household name for his cat paintings in the 1800s. The peculiar artist was known for drawing from both his hands, and due to his prolific work on cats, he was also appointed as the chairman of the National Cat Club. Born in 1860, the artist lived a troubled life where often, after momentary happiness, an everlasting catastrophe awaited.
The film was directed by Will Sharpe, and Benedict Cumberbatch plays the perturbed artist with great virtuosity. Let’s dive into the world of cats, kittens, and Mr. Wain and try to understand the electricity that he was so fascinated with.
‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ Plot Summary
Louis Wain was a fighter. Resilience came naturally to him. In a family of five sisters and a mother, he was the sole provider. He worked as a freelance artist and often drew animals at agricultural shows, which were quite a thing in those days. Louis met Sir William Ingram, who gave him a regular spot in his Daily, where he was expected to draw illustrations. He didn’t want to take it at first as he said he did not have enough time to work as a permanent employee since he was heavily burdened with his extensive research on electricity, and he sought to get a patent for the same. But financial pressures, family obligations, and expectations often coerce an artist to do things he never intended to do.
Amidst all the trade-offs with life, Louis stumbled upon someone for whom he was not ready to compromise. Emily Richardson was the governess of his sisters, and Mr. Wain couldn’t help but admire her charming personality. He got married to her, and together they adopted a cat whom they found maundering one day on their porch. That little part of his life where he spent time with Emily was indeed some of his happiest days. But that pleasure was also snatched from him when Emily was diagnosed with breast cancer. They were the imperfects, the misfits of the society who found solace together. Louis started painting Peter, his cat, and even before he realized it, his notability and prominence took over England.
His life stayed true to its nature, and soon another debacle followed, the only difference being that this time it was financial. Despite all the fame, he couldn’t earn much as he had not copyrighted his paintings. Louis Wain’s tryst with destiny continued, but the fascination about cats and electricity remained constant forever.
A Dark Mind of An Outcast
It was speculated that Louis Wain suffered from schizophrenia, but later it was debated that it would instead have been a kind of autistic disorder. Irrespective of the technicalities, the man had a difficult time coping up after the loss of his wife. He had always been a man who found it challenging to exist amidst the people woven together by a thread of formalities of the society.
“Crippling anxieties and recurring nightmares,” as narrated by Olivia Coleman, were an intricate part of his life. Grief was his constant partner; no matter how much he tried, it never left his side. He left his home and went to Sir William’s castle in a village with his sisters. The intention was to give his sister suffering from schizophrenia a change of air and try to get out of the dark and disturbing abyss that his mind was getting sucked into. You can find an escape from the palpable bumps of life, but how do you get rid of memories? How do you escape that breeze that brings with it the reminiscence of a time that can never come back? Those words, most moments, and that touch reverberated and created a conundrum inside his very being.
Victorian Age & Its Subtleties- The Standout Scenes
The magic of ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain‘ lies in its detailing and nuances. The most impacting and thoughtfully crafted scenes are without any conversations or dialogs. The image that was portrayed was of utmost importance to a “reputed family.” Being the colonial masters of over half of the world, it was an irony that the individuals were chained by obligations and norms that were unrelenting in nature.
Desires, wants, mental health, all were secondary to the condescending and unforgiving society. People were not very hospitable to change. Anything and everything could oust the respect of the family. The etiquettes and civilities that were meant for showing consideration and humility had transformed into something that was no less than oppression. The sisters are often worried about what will the people say, be that when Louis married a governess or when their sister got diagnosed with schizophrenia. “It didn’t do any good to the family name,” narrates Olivia Coleman, pointing out how much importance was given to the image that was portrayed.
‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ Ending, Explained
Louis Wain always believed that there was electricity that everybody had in them, be it cats or humans themselves. Electricity that pushes us through time into the future and brings back old memories from the past. While sitting in a mental hospital, he is visited by an old acquaintance, Dan Rider, who happened to be a fan and had come for the hospital inspection. He is aghast to see such a prolific artist in such a condition. He saw that age had taken its toll, and an artist was trying to find his way in a dark alley, which once used to be lightened with hope and excitement. There is no bigger disappointment than feeling that you have failed and that you cannot do anything to make it better. Louis Wain thought that he never found out what that “electricity” actually was.
But Dan Rider has a totally different perspective. He feels that the electricity that Louis Wain always said was present when he met Emily, was nothing else than love. She told him to keep painting so that he was never left alone in this crowd of people. He said to him that his life was as accomplished as any other great artist.
Louis Wain was an outcast, a renegade, lonely, frightened yet brave, and resilient. He was a concoction of a great many things which shaped the world with his unique perspective. ‘The Electrical life of Louis Wain‘ might have frailties in technicalities but has the potential to leave you teary-eyed and beguiled at the same time.
The Electrical life of Louis Wain is a 2021 Biopic Drama film directed by Will Sharpe. The film stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy in the lead roles.