In the 1850s, Ellen Ternan is a minimally talented actress who catches the eye of the hailed British author, Charles Dickens. Bored with his intellectually unstimulating wife, Dickens takes the educated Ellen as his mistress with the cooperation of her mother. What follows is a stormy relationship with this literary giant who provides her with a life few women of her time can enjoy. Yet, Ellen is equally revolted by Charles' emotional cruelty and determination to keep her secret. In that conflict, Ellen must judge her own role in her life and decide if the price she pays is bearable. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones, who play lovers in this movie, also worked together in Cemetery Junction (2010), in which they played father and daughter. In a 2013 interview with Jones and Fiennes on NPR, Jones said that it was "weird" and "very Freudian" to go from playing one relationship to the other, but Fiennes disagreed, saying "It's just a job. Come on." See more »
Very early in the film, Dickens introduces a member of his acting troupe as "Mr. Berger" with a 'soft' g, like a j; moments later, he refers to him as "Mr. Berger" with the g pronounced as 'hard'. There's no explanation for this discrepancy. See more »
A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is a profound secret and mystery to every other.
Until that secret is given to another to look after. And then perhaps two human creatures may know each other.
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A 6 or a 7? I went with 6, but would have preferred 6.5.
The film is beautifully made, which is no surprise, with beautiful costumes and scenery from the Victorian era, as well as being beautifully acted and well produced. However, although loosely based on the biographical book of the same name (The Invisible Woman), the plot line is vague and esoteric; that is, "intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest."
We see glimpses into the life and behaviors of Dickens, his mistress Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, and Dickens' wife, but the film provides little depth or detail, and certainly no explanation for the meaning of these glimpses, or even a clear time line. If you know enough about Dickens ahead of time it will make sense; if not, it will remain a mystery (such as, "what was that scene about?") unless you, as I did this morning, start learning more about Dickens' life as he lived it, including better understanding the book the film was based upon. We see otherwise unexplained glimpses into the life of Dickens and Nelly, some of which seem to be inaccurate dramatizations (poetic license?), which have little meaning on their own, and leave you wondering what just happened, and why was that important. You'll get the overall picture, but it will be like a jigsaw puzzle with many missing pieces, some of which , because of those missing pieces, are actually incorrectly put together. If you're not already familiar with the life of Dickens and Ternan, read up on Dickens before you go, or be prepared to read up on him after you see the movie. But don't otherwise expect to come up with a clear picture of anything, except that Dickens and Ternan had a long-standing affair that affected her past his death.
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