Tag Archives: Elle Fanning

Mary Shelley

This movie would be a good contender for Feminist February so I’m almost pissed I didn’t save it. However, it was interesting to get an insight into the life of such an interesting writer, the creator of one of the most horrifying and also sympathetic horror characters of all time.

*Spoilers*

Mary Shelley (2017)

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a 16-year-old woman with a penchant for horror. A writer whenever she can be, she is somewhat stifled by the responsibilities of home, by her step-mother (go figure) and by the death of her mother, a wanton hussy who left the family home to embark on a live-in threesome and then pegged it. Her father tends to take the side of his horrible wife, even against his own daughter and he also critiques her writing, telling her she has to find her own voice. Gee, I sure hope she does…!

Mary has a step-sister (I think) called Claire (Bel Powley) who adores her and there might be a younger brother somewhere in the background too. Mary’s step-mother Mary Jane Clairmont (Joanne Froggatt) is a professional shit-stirrer and many times I found myself shouting the C Word at the screen when she was on it. She ribs our girl about her mother’s slutty ways and this gets Mary temporarily ejected from the family home, sent away to stay with a cousin (?) in Ireland.

The cousin, Isabel Baxter (Maisie Williams) is fun and Mary begins to enjoy her life away from home and her family. Not least because here she meets the young poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth), a serious charmer and all-round hot piece. As Mary and Shelley begin to nuture the spark between them, Mary is called home to deal with an emergency – the serious illness of her sister, Claire.

Mary returns home to find Claire has been faking her sickness just to get her sister home and I would have slapped her damn face for doing that to me. Mary is a little more understanding and able to handle it even better when Shelley appears on her doorstep, under the guise of being apprentice to Mary’s father, also a writer. The pair are able to pick up where they left off which is all well and good until Mary is approached by Shelley’s wife and young daughter in the street. Mrs Shelley tells her to stay away from her man or she’ll cut a bitch – and Mary denies all romantic interest in Shelley, which we all know is a goddamn lie.

Later, Shelley states that they are married in name only (that old chestnut) and that the marriage was nothing like what he’d signed up for. Mary is talked around quickly by Shelley because she wants to be but her family are outraged that Shelley would shirk his responsibilities to his wife and child so easily. Mary’s father tells her that if she sees him again then she is dead to him and – ooops – guess who she chooses?

When the time comes, Mary runs away and Claire begs her to go too. So the girls and Shelley disappear into their new life which lacks the grandeur both of them were expecting. It is free and sexy though and the girls are able to indulge their desires, e.g. drinking wine and shagging. Eventually the trio move to a house though things are still far from idyllic. Shelley is a struggling writer who has a deal but isn’t delivering the goods, they’re poor and struggling and then Mary falls pregnant. Added to this, the couple have a fight when Mary declines the sexual advances of one of Shelley’s buds. It becomes clear that Shelley has quite an open-mind when it comes to the topic of monogamy, while Mary is a one man kind of gal. They fight about who each of them believed the other to be and there is also a strong suggestion that Shelley is also schtupping Claire (though as far as I recall this is never confirmed).

Mary has the baby, Clara and all is well for a time until she passes away. Baby Clara is sickly anyway but during a mad dash from the home in the middle of the night (I think the trio are running away from creditors or the landlord), Clara catches a chill. I fully blame Shelley for this needless death and Mary’s subsequent grieving.

Claire begins shagging Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) who invites them all to his home for a fancy retreat and Mary meets a kind (and fit) doctor who seems to dig her. Shelley gets jealous about this chemistry and throws his weight about, or is this a delayed response to the news he receives that his wife has killed herself? Either way he’s a dick. Byron too is a shit to Claire who is up the duff with his child. The take home here is ditch the zeros and go your own way, girls.

During the course of the film we are given glimpses of Mary’s interest in science and while they’re staying with Byron, the group go to a TED Talk about bringing people back to life via a spooky looking machine. Following this, a seed is planting in Mary’s mind and a monster is born. You know to which ‘monster’ I refer.

Mary of course writes Frankenstein which is an exceptional work but is not taken seriously by the publisher on Mary’s return because you guessed it, she is a lowly woman and books by women do not sell. Also, the publisher dick implies that Shelley wrote it anyway. Lo! – Shelley in the end gets the credit for Mary’s masterpiece and she is so angry they split up.

Will he do the right thing in the end and will Mary reconcile with her father? More importantly will she gain the recognition she so richly deserves for her work? Well, most of us have picked up a copy of the book with her name on the cover so that one might be a no-brainer but it’s still nice to have an insight into how this comes about.

Well, I might not have paid particular attention to the details but I did enjoy this period piece. Elle Fanning is always a delight and I presume she does Mary Shelley justice. I don’t like any of the male figures, except maybe the kindly doctor and that’s the point. This is about Mary and her journey to liberation. It’s about being taken seriously as a member of the fairer sex and of staying true to her own principles. Mary holds her head high despite the reputation she gains from being with Shelley and the shadow of who her mother was and what she did.

I love the book Frankenstein and the themes it explores – I will be picking it up again soon.

⭐⭐⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

What does my heroine think of this one? Would she keep this one reanimated or refuse to publish it? Find out here.

 

How to Talk to Girls at Parties (Film) Review

Welcome to Alien August! Jill and I have decided to explore the genre of science fiction, starting with this bat-shit but charming adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story of the same name.

Who knows where the month will take us?

*Spoilers*

How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2017)

IMDB Synopsis

An alien touring the galaxy breaks away from her group and meets two young inhabitants of the most dangerous place in the universe: the London suburb of Croydon.

My Review

It’s 1977 and Enn (Alex Sharp) and his pals are into punk and girls. When they find out from Croydon’s punk matriarch, Queen Boadicea (Nicole Kidman) that there’s a secret house party going on at a local address, the boys are determined to crash it and soak up as much life experience as they can.

And boy, do they get more then they bargain for.

Accidentally gatecrashing the wrong house and the wrong party, Enn meets beautiful and mysterious Zan (Elle Fanning) while his friends are soon otherwise engaged (sex tour/dance party), and thus begins a wonderfully weird love affair that will span the universe. Sort of.

Aliens are slightly better looking than Spielberg portrays them

What Enn is quick to realise is that Zan isn’t like other girls. In the literal sense because she is very much not human and part of a cannibal/child eating commune of alien life forms currently touring Earth. Zan is a rebel at heart though which might be why she takes to punk culture like a duck to water.

She seems to be the only member of her group to vocalise her concerns that they all act like tourists but fail to experience real life like the locals do. When she meets Enn she decides to take a chance and let him teach her more about the ways of Punk for the remaining 48 hours she has on Earth.

While the young lovers experience all the planet has to offer, Zan’s alien crew tsk and tut about all the rules she’s breaking. But they follow her anyway in a bid to make sure she doesn’t miss her ticket off Earth. This leads them all into hilarious japes as Zan meets Boudicea, becomes a punk star and picks up her own on-board passenger along the way.

There’s also some dubious sexual assault by alien (it’s meant to be light-hearted but made me feel icky), the convoluted cannibal story-line and a hard decision for Zan to make about her future and the future of… well, you’ll see.

Will Enn end up heartbroken or does this relationship have legs? Also, are Punks harder than aliens in a fight?

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My Thoughts

If truth be told I wasn’t as focused as I could of been on this. It was fun fluffy goodness with a wonderfully bonkers premise and I enjoyed it. I didn’t really follow a lot of the alien philosophy, something about the fathers eating their children but it doesn’t matter – it’s one long getting-to-know-you montage and I’m here for that. I’m also extremely here for Nicole Kidman as a punk Queen and would like to move into her artists’ loft STAT.

Elle Fanning is a dreamy one and her chemistry with Alex Sharp was believable. I enjoyed Enn’s friends, John (Ethan Lawrence) and Vic (Abraham Lewis), the latter of whom is anally probed against his will. This later happens to another character too. This shit didn’t happen down the bus stop in Bexhill town, let me tell you. Although, I would like to go to that weird arse house party.

So yeah, it was fun and nice and looked good with attractive cast members – but I haven’t really thought of it since and the pregnancy story-line is a little cheesy. The very ending is cute though, when we meet a grown up Enn in the nineties.

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My Rating

3/5.

What does ma girl Jill think of this psychedelic love fest? Does she think it’s out of this work or would she eat it for dinner? Find out here.

The Neon Demon (Film) Review

I’ve been very distracted of late and not paying my best attention to anything beyond my own misery. Anxiety August, in other words, is going great. I am working my way slowly out of it though and will be back to normal soon, I have no doubt.

Until then there is this film which is definitely on the more unusual end of the spectrum. I’d seen it and discussed it before for the podcast and don’t remember liking it all that much. But for some reason when searching for a film for this week’s post I had a hankering to revisit.

*Spoilers ahoy!*

The Neon Demon (2016)

IMDB Synopsis

When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

Mmmmm, sticky

My Review

Beauty is a curse, innit? Well, apparently. Most of us mere mortals will never know the feeling of being so universally desired that people from all walks of life want a piece of you – and not always in the healthiest way.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) knows though, lord does she know. She pretends otherwise because that’s good grace and becoming of a small-town girl just rocked up in the City of Angels. But she knows her power and her power is great.

Alone and family-less, Jesse soon meets make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) on a shoot and the older girl takes our ingenue under her wing. This basically involves taking her to a fun party and introducing her to two fellow models, Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee) who are immediately threatened by Jesse’s youth and good looks. In an agonising bathroom scene, the women ponder who Jesse is fucking and which parts of her body are ‘real’.

Mean Girls 3’s setting was decidedly less glamorous than the original’s

This gives us an insight into the bitching and backstabbing of the beauty world and frankly, who would want it? These girls do though and their womanly relationships do not thrive in direct competition with one another. When Jesse attends a catwalk casting, despite having no walking experience, she nails her audition smuggly in front of Sarah, who is visibly devastated.

Later, there is an altercation between the two which takes a dark tone and Jesse is injured. She’s fine but it’s dramatic because that’s this film, isn’t it?

Meanwhile, Jesse is also having to deal with dating an older man, the creepiness of her motel landlord and the increasingly intense affections of Ruby. Her career is going from strength to strength though, so what does she care?

Well, things turn darker still when her rivals decide they’ve had enough of this comely little newcomer and Ruby, feeling rejected, instigates something terrible.

In at the deep end

TND is rife with symbolism, with comments on society’s obsession with youth and beauty – and an awful lot of it is pretentious af. Plus, I doubt I understood it all and I sort of like the film for that.

Fanning’s performance doesn’t require an awful lot of skill. She merely pouts and looks doe-eyed 99% of the time and it works for her. Jena Malone’s somewhat sneaky Ruby is probably my highlight, though some of her motivations in the name of desire aren’t to be sniffed at.

As with other Refn movies, this is a highly stylised world view and could be held up as a perfect example of style over substance.

Every frame is perfectly structured and the lighting particularly is sublime but you expect that. But is it any good beneath the neon facade? I think it’s weirdness makes it above average, if not the best film ever made.

When James and I discussed this for the podcast, I remember us drawing parallels with some fairytale elements and I still feel that here. Jesse’s the innocent left out alone in the world, coming up against all manner of threats, including The Big Bad Wolf (Keane Reeves) and the Three Witches.

And Jesse, she’s not so innocent after all. Every sweet smile, every slanted look is perfectly contrived. She’s her own cautionary tale.

My Rating

4/5. Better the second time round. Still pretentious though.

What did Wifey think? Did she gobble it up or would she send it for extensive plastic surgery? Find out here.

Oh hey…