I had only previously read excerpts from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, but it’s hard to deny the endearing legacy the novel had in literature and even in cinema. I was pretty hyped to see this because it seemed intriguing and also because it was clearly Elle Fanning appreciation weekend. After making the assumption that most of the events in the film are fairly accurate I must admit that I enjoyed this film.
The film follows the early life of Mary Shelley and her first love to Percy Shelley. Percy was a bit of a philanderer but Mary persevered because she loved him. She experiences heartbreak and loss through her early years but then comes upon circumstances where she is able to write her own novel in a competition. Of course, this novel comes to be known as Frankenstein. However, its tough for Mary to get the credit she deserves for it because it was not common for women at the time to be known for their writing. Also, her husband was already an established writer so people assumed it was his story.
I’m a fan of both of the Fanning sisters but I think Elle is the better actress. After seeing her in this and How to Talk to Girls at Parties, I can see her dedication and how committed she is to a role. She is a strong point as to why this film is enjoyable. I also liked the set and costume design was very accurate for period detail. Technically, the film looks the part so its nice to stare at. I haven’t seen Haifaa al-Mansour’s previous effort but feel inclined to check it out since I enjoyed this biopic enough.
I’d say the main weakness of the film is its lack of focus on Frankenstein. The film is primarily focused on Shelley’s love life and then kind of kicks into focusing on her writing efforts but even so the film does not really illustrate the importance of the work or the profound effect it has on people. They cover the inspiration for the work but I don’t think its nearly enough. Overall, a pretty solid film with flaws but one thats heralded by a strong lead performance.