‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’: Review, trailer and everything we know about the Benedict Cumberbatch movie

Benedict Cumberbatch as Louis Wain in 'The Electrical Life of Louis Wain'.
(Image credit: Amazon Studios)

Benedict Cumberbatch has been receiving high praise for his work in Power of the Dog, but he has another movie this year that fans of his can enjoy, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain. A biopic of the famous British artist Louis Wain, who is most widely known for his surrealist paintings of cats toward the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.

The Electrical Life of Louis Wain has already had its release in the U.S. and some other countries, but it is still waiting for its U.K. release, though that is quickly approaching.

Here is everything we know about The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ release date

After playing many fall film festivals in 2021, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain received a limited theatrical release in the U.S. on Oct. 22 before it made its way to streaming via Prime Video on Nov. 5. Any Amazon Prime subscriber can stream the movie at no additional cost through Prime Video.

However, the biopic of the British artist has yet to make its way to the U.K. That is all set to change on Jan. 1, as The Electrical Life of Louis Wain will finally be available to U.K. audiences.

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ reviews

Critics were fond of The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, if not overly smitten with it. Review aggregator sites Rotten Tomatoes has the film at 70% Fresh while on Metacritic it has compiled a score of 62. The lead performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy were often cited as high points for the movie.

You can read What to Watch’s review of The Electrical Life of Louis Wain here.

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ plot

As just about all biopics do, The Electrical Life of Louis Wain tells the story of its subject, particularly during crucial periods of their lives. But, for something more specific, he is a detailed synopsis of the movie:

“Louis Wain brims with creativity, even as his life in the 1880s oscillates between the delightful and the dizzying. To support his widowed mother and five younger sisters, the academy-trained artist sells drawings of animals from the country fair. His skilled and speedy portraiture impresses, but his often stormy view of the world and those in it keeps him from engaging much with society. That is, until he hires a kind, curious governess for his youngest sisters, Emily Richardson, who illuminates his life in a way even he’d never imagined. Love blooms across the class divide — albeit to the chagrin of Louis’s stern sister Caroline, second oldest and second in command.” 

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ cast

Benedict Cumberbatch leads the way as Wain in the movie, but he is joined by a number of very popular British thespians, including Claire Foy and Andrea Riseborough, who play the two most important women in Louis’ life. Foy, best known for The Crown and A Very British Scandal, plays the governess Wain hires for his sisters and his future wife, Emily Richardson-Wain, while Riseborough (Birdman, Oblivion) plays Louis’ oldest sister Caroline.

Other cast members include Toby Jones, Aimee Lou Wood, Sharon Rooney, Hayley Squires, Stacy Martin, Taika Waititi and Richard Ayoade.

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ director

Behind the camera for The Electrical Life of Louis Wain and co-writing the script (with Simon Stephenson), is Will Sharpe. Prior to The Electrical Life of Louis Wain, Sharpe’s sole directing credit for movies was the 2011 movie The Black Pond. He’s had a bit more notable success on TV, writing and directing episodes of Flowers on Channel 4 in the U.K. and the recently released HBO show Landscapers with Olivia Colman and David Thewlis. 

‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’ trailer

Check out the official trailer for The Electrical Life of Louis Wain below. 

How to watch ‘The Electrical Life of Louis Wain’

For U.S. viewers, they can stream The Electrical Life of Louis Wain right now if they are a subscriber to Amazon Prime, as that gives them access to Prime Video at no additional cost. That, actually, is the only way to watch it, as the movie has not been made for digital purchase on any site outside of Prime Video. 

Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Only Murders in the Building, Yellowstone, The Boys, Game of Thrones and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd.