TIFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Mary Shelley’

Posted in Film Festivals, Movies, TIFF 2017 by - September 13, 2017
TIFF 2017: Our Review of ‘Mary Shelley’

A love triangle, a coming-of-age story, anperiod costume drama, and a historical account combine effectively in Mary Shelley, all powered by a great central performance in the titular role by Elle Fanning.

She is teenager Mary Godwin, born into not riches but certainly fame and success as the daughter of two brilliant thinkers. It’s the early 19th century in England, and she works in the bookshop of her father, a man whose open-minded nature sometimes is put in check when it comes to his curious and headstrong daughter. Mary’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, passed long ago, but she too became renown for her liberal and humanist ideals; part of Mary’s growth is following her own path.

While seeking a unique voice and story to tell, she is bedazzled by a handsome and charming writer in Percy Shelley, and soon they are off on a whirlwind adventure, both physically and emotionally.

That’s because Shelley, like many men of this time it seems, are sexually free and as a result, emotionally absent. And also financially irresponsible. Not only has be beguiled Mary, but also her best friend, who is along for the ride, joining Mary in leaving behind their boring provincial life. 

Amid the romance and drama though, is a feminist tale of a young woman making consequential decision and living with the results. She tries, fails, and gets back up; she is questioned both because of her youth and gender. Mary Shelley enchants, and its finale is stirring and surprisingly emotional.

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