Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour
A young author conceives her masterpiece.
“The sad irony of the biopic Mary Shelley is that it’s a deeply conventional movie about ragingly unconventional people,” said Peter Rainer in CSMonitor.com. Its protagonist, the daughter of progressive idealists, was 17 when she ran away with the married rock-star romantic poet Percy Shelley, and she began writing Frankenstein just a year later while summering with Lord Byron. This period in her life was packed with intrigue and tragedy, yet the first-ever Shelley biopic “plays out like a second-rate soap opera.” Elle Fanning is “excellent as always” as Mary, and the film is at least “a richly designed and photographed period piece,” said Katie Walsh in the Los Angeles Times. But even though the movie makes a compelling case that Frankenstein is a feminist text, Mary Shelley and her libertine circle were “far more fascinating than this sanitized version.” Fanning herself contributes to the bloodlessness of the drama, turning a fiery, brilliant, storm-buffeted teenager into a fusty beauty, said Emily Yoshida in NYMag.com. Making a historical figure recognizably as human of any of us “shouldn’t be this hard, especially when the figure is so electrifyingly out of time as Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley.” ■