Mary Shelley | Chicago Reader
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Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley

The author of Frankenstein gets her own biopic, which tracks the book's genesis but mainly details her tumultuous marriage to Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Teenage Mary (Elle Fanning) comes with quite an intellectual pedigree: her father, William Godwin (Stephen Dillane), is notorious for his anarchist writings, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, published the landmark Vindication of the Rights of Women before dying from complications of young Mary's birth. This philosophical baggage gives screenwriter Emma Jensen plenty to explore when Mary falls in love with Shelley (Douglas Booth) and begins to hear her father's abstract ideas about free love parroted back to her by the poet. Mary's loss of her firstborn child and her fascination with galvanism prove inspirational when the couple visit Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) in Geneva and he challenges each of his guests to write a ghost story, though the movie, which gradually slows to a crawl, could have used a little galvanism itself. Haifaa Al-Mansour directed.

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