If you’re a cat lover, chances are they feature in the art you display at home, whether it’s a portrait of your feline companion or a kitschy kitten sculpture from the vintage store. But even the most devoted cat person may be unfamiliar with the British artist who started the cat art craze way back in the 1800s. A new movie seeks to make him a household name.
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain tells the extraordinary true story of eccentric British artist Louis Wain (played by Benedict Cumberbatch, aka Sherlock), whose playful, sometimes psychedelic cat pictures helped transform the public’s perception of cats. The film follows Wain from the late 1800s through to the 1930s as he develops his artistic talent, meets his wife Emily (Claire Foy), and seeks to unlock the “electrical” mysteries of the world. And based on the trailer, it’s full of cats!
The true story of Louis Wain hinges on one particular cat, a black and white kitten named Peter who showed up in Louis and Emily’s garden and became a beloved companion and comfort through difficult times. Wain started drawing Peter to entertain his wife, she encouraged him to sell his art, and the rest is history. From the trailer, it looks like Peter will feature heavily in the film. There’s a wonderful shot of Cumberbatch riding a bicycle through the streets of London with a black and white kitten in the basket, along with shots of him lying on the ground communing with a group of cats, holding a flat-faced kitty, and of course, painting a lot of cats.
Other scenes let us see the world through Wain’s artistic eyes, with swirling colors and walking, talking cats. Wain’s most famous cat art features anthropomorphized felines wearing human clothes. Taking inspiration from his work, the film promises to be very charming and a little bit weird (kind of like most cats I know).
The Electrical Life of Louis Wain will be released to select U.S. movie theaters starting October 22, and available streaming on Amazon on November 5. I know I’ll be watching from home with a cat on my lap!