She will forever be remembered as the writer who gave the world Frankenstein. But the real life story of Mary Shelley—and the creation of her immortal monster—is nearly as fantastical as her fiction. Raised by a renowned philosopher father (Stephen Dillane) in 18th-century London, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) is a teenage dreamer determined to make her mark on the world when she meets the dashing and brilliant poet Percy Shelley (Douglas Booth). So begins a torrid, bohemian love affair marked by both passion and personal tragedy that will transform Mary and fuel the writing of her Gothic masterwork. The film was directed by Haifaa al-Mansour (Wajda).
The Hollywood Reporter/Deborah Young
Mary Shelley is a luscious-looking spectacle, drenched in the colors and visceral sensations of nature, the sensuality of young lovers, the passionate disappointment of loss and betrayal. But above all it is a film about ideas that breaks out of the well-worn mold of period drama (partly, anyway) by reaching deeply into the mind of the extraordinary woman who wrote the Gothic evergreen Frankenstein.
Boston Globe/Ty Burr
If Mary Shelley disappoints, it’s only because al-Mansour sticks to the tried and true bones of the bio-pic genre and plays it stylistically safe. Maybe the filmmaker hopes to prove her skill with a big-budget period piece; if so, she easily succeeds.
Movie Nation/Roger Moore
Mary Shelley is in essence “Becoming Frankenstein,” the story of how a British teen had the education, talent, life experience and literary ambitions thanks to the salon she was a part of, to create one of the seminal novels in the history of horror.
The New York Times/A.O. Scott
This account is plausible and moving, at once a defense of genre fiction and of female creativity. But at times the differences between male and female writers can seem a bit schematic, in a way that undermines Mary’s intellectual autonomy.
Screen International/Allan Hunter
Mary Shelley is ultimately the story of a woman finding her own voice and asserting her independence and that will be the heart of its appeal.