Mary Shelley (2018) – Wrong Focus, Inconsistent Tone, Boring as Hell Review

Mary Shelley (2018) ReviewRating 1.5/5 Wow, talk about the trailer for Mary Shelley completely getting the movie wrong. In fact, the trailer was cut with more excitement than Mary Shelley turn out to be. I’m not sure if the filmmakers were going for authenticity but this is one flick that could have used some serious artistic incense. It was just boring. A movie about the woman who was part of creating a brand new genre called “Science Fiction” – who created a novel that will probably outlive humanity, was totally fucking boring. The trailer made it seem like they were going to give it some personality, talking about where the idea came from and her struggles with gaining recognition. A woman barely out of teenage attended a party and was dared to write the scariest horror story she could, and she came up with Frankenstein. Even if this movie decided to go full blown “liberal” and hit you over the head with the feminist slant of her struggle to gain recognition would have been more interesting than what we got.

Mary Shelly – The Author of Frankenstein

Mary Shelley Elle FanningThat should have been the focus of the movie. I don’t care if Mary Shelley was the mousiest person to ever have lived, the movie about her life should have portrayed her with some personality, some verve. Take the story of Margaret Brown, a rich socialite who did the “liberal” thing of throwing her considerable wealth at stuff she claimed to care about. Her only real claim to fame was surviving the Titanic. Her pictures make her look like every woman Groucho Marx conned in the movies. Yet when the Broadway Play and Movie is done they make her look like the life of the party, a woman who filled a room with her personality. She was played by Debbie Reynold’s, Cloris Leachman and Kathy Bates, amongst others, and those are actresses who always put some personality in their performances. So why didn’t Haifaa Al-Mansour (admittedly a newbie director) give Mary Shelley that spin? Her life story is ripe for it. She comes from a family of activists and reading any biography about her you got the impression that she was an activist too. You got to imagine the balls it had to take for her to pen that book then, not only seek to publish it but to be recognized for the work. In a world of social media, the internet and a huge collection of horror fair, Frankenstein might seem tame. But in 1823 that book had to look like hardcore porn to a lot of readers. The kind of person lives life like it’s her fucking stallion, not have life trample all over her because. .movie.

Mary Shelley Actors

Maybe it was Elle Fanning. Okay, I completely HATED Neon Demon, but she was cool as the Smurfette syndrome member of the Super 8 gang.  And showed a shred of versatility and depth in The Vanishing of Sidney Hall. Other than that, maybe she was the wrong actress for the role. I would have cast Maisie Williams. Oh wait, did someone says Maisie doesn’t look like the photo of Mary Shelley? Yeah, I’m sure Bonnie Parker looked exactly like Faye Dunaway in her prime. Why Maisie Williams? Because she has the versatility and the pluck to portray Mary Shelley with a sense of fun and wonder. Unfortunately, she’s still too underage for the love scenes, because it was clear Mary Shelley, Percey, Lord Byron, and the others lived a bit of an untraditional lifestyle, but she has given Mary Shelley the personality she deserved.

Mary Shelley Tone

Mary Shelley Gothic RomanceThe main problem was the focus on the relationship between Mary and Percey Shelley. Sure, some tragic things did happen and I’m sure being in a relationship with a man already married with another child must have put a lot of pressure on, well, everything. However, in this movie Elle Fanning portrayed Mary Shelley as a cipher within her own life. Mary was the victim of everything happening around her rather than an active participate trying to overcome obstacles around her. This just does not jibe with a woman who wrote one of the most important works of fiction at 20, on a dare. Mary Shelley’s name was not put on her own book until it’s 2nd publishing in France and that’s because she and her husband fought to make that happen. When it came to that part of the movie, it came and went and you were like, “Oh, that’s all it took?” It was trying to be a weird tragic romance when it should have been a story of someone who could inspire. Romances are not inspirational on the right cord this movie should have been. It most certainly did not help that Fanning had zero chemistry with Douglas Booth, who plays Percey Shelley.

Bottom Line

This movie should have been better. It should have been an old world girl-power drama about one of history’s more impressive figures. Instead, it was a slog to sit through, paced with a slow unease that would make M. Night Shyamalan jealous. The writing of the book was so far in the background you had to remember that this is what the movie is supposed to be about. Mary Shelley is not fun nor interesting, it offers nothing and has nothing new to say and isn’t particularly effective as the gothic romantic tragedy it seemed desperate to be. Skip this one unless you have insomnia and nothing else is on basic cable.



I'm from Brooklyn New York and this is my opinion on everything.