A friend who saw Haifaa al-Mansour‘s Mary Shelley (IFC Films, opening today in one theatre in Santa Monica) says the standout is 25 year-old Douglas Booth, who plays Percy Bysshe Shelley. I don’t even remember him from Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah (’14) or Lone Scherfig‘s The Riot Club (’14), and sitting through the Wachowski brothers Jupiter Ascending, in which Booth also costarred, made me too miserable to notice anyone or anything. I just wanted to die.
At age 16, the actual Mary Shelley (Elle Fanning) began a physical relationship with the already married Percy Bysshe Shelley. Together with Mary’s stepsister Claire Clairmont (Bel Powley, whom Booth is seeing in real life), Mary and Shelley left for France and travelled through Europe. Claire began sleeping with Shelley, and then started sleeping with Lord Byron, who dumped her. Mary became pregnant thrice by Shelley, but two of the babies died. Shelley’s wife committed suicide, after which he and Mary got married.
At age 18 Mary wrote “Frankenstein”, which was allegedly some kind of metaphorical saga about her life. Shelley was Dr. Henry Frankenstein — she was the unloved, spat-upon, misunderstood monster.