Mary Shelley

Critics Consensus

Mary Shelley smooths out its subject's fascinating life and fails to communicate the spark of her classic work, undermining fine period detail and a solid Elle Fanning performance.



Total Count: 119


Audience Score

User Ratings: 574
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MARY SHELLEY tells the story of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (Elle Fanning) - author of one of the world's most famous Gothic novels 'Frankenstein' - and her fiery, tempestuous relationship with renowned romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth.) The pair are two outsiders constrained by polite society but bound together by a natural chemistry and progressive ideas that are beyond the boundaries of their age and time. Mary and Percy declare their love for each other and much to her family's horror they run away together, joined by Mary's half-sister Claire (Bel Powley.) In the midst of growing tension within their relationship during their stay at Lord Byron's (Tom Sturridge) house at Lake Geneva, the idea of Frankenstein is conceived when a challenge is put to all houseguests to write a ghost story. An incredible character is created, which will loom large in popular culture for centuries to come, but society at the time puts little value in female authors. At the tender age of 18, Mary is forced to challenge these preconceptions, to protect her work and to forge her own identity..


Elle Fanning
as Mary Shelley
Douglas Booth
as Percy Bysshe Shelley
Joanne Froggatt
as Mary Jane Clairmont
Maisie Williams
as Isabel Baxter
Stephen Dillane
as William Godwin
Bel Powley
as Claire Clairmont

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Critic Reviews for Mary Shelley

All Critics (119) | Top Critics (30) | Fresh (47) | Rotten (72)

  • The movie is still well executed but, at two hours, not even Fanning's persuasive performance can elevate it to being more than a moderately interesting historical drama.

    Jul 12, 2018 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • If it falls short of its ambitions, you have to love that it tries to go for the big story, and that it gives Elle Fanning such a grand role at her tender age.

    Jul 12, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Fanning holds the screen as someone intent on writing her own destiny.

    Jul 6, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • It's a story of super-heroism in disguise from the early 19th century, in a mostly London-set literary milieu that's captured with curious and probing compassion.

    Jul 5, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kevin Maher

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The film, though handsome and well-acted, reduces Mary Shelley's accomplishments; it's almost over by the time "Frankenstein" gets written, with little attention paid to its author's creative spark.

    Jun 13, 2018 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…
  • As it stands, this monstrously inept creation is more terrifying than any scenario the author conjured up.

    Jun 8, 2018 | Rating: 0/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mary Shelley

  • Apr 03, 2019
    Elle Fanning leads the cast in the indie biopic Mary Shelley. After falling in love with a young poet, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin runs off with her sister to live with him but things take a turn when his father cuts him off and they find themselves living in poverty and avoiding debt collectors, then one fateful night she has a dream that inspires her to write a chilling horror story that would become one of the most famous ever written. Fanning delivers a strong performance and the rest of the cast is pretty good as well. And the sets and costumes are incredibly well-done. However, there seems to be a bit of a political agenda, pushing acceptance of polyamory and the bohemian lifestyle. Also, the film doesn't really go much into the creation and legacy of the Frankenstein novel; just a few scenes of Mary writing it and struggling to get it published. Yet while it has some issues, overall Mary Shelley is an intriguing look at the woman behind one of the most frightening novels ever written.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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