EMILY puts two English characters within the framework of a stereotypically French film, deconstructing a common sexual fantasy to explore the moment two strangers meet and attempt to fill their loneliness with each others' need.
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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"The Invisible Woman" (2013 release; 111 min.) brings the story of how famous writer Charles Dickens falls in love with a much younger woman, Ellen "Nelly" Ternan". As the movie opens, we are told it is "Margrave, 1883", where we see Ellen and her husband George hang out with several family friends, Ellen is asked (as apparently happens often) about her "childhood" (which we later learn is really a misnomer) memories of Charles Dickens. The movie then goes to "Manchester, some years back" (in fact, the late 1850s), where we get to know Dickens (played by Ralph Fiennes) as he is trying to turn his book "The Frozen Deep" into a stage play. Then comes about the Ternan clan, mother and her 3 daughters, to act in the play. One of the daughters, Ellen ("Nelly"), only 18 at the time, gains the immediate attention of Dickens (a married man, and 20+ years her senior), and a slowly developing courtship starts to play out. What will become of the attraction between these two in a Victorian society where the rules are strict? To tell you more would ruin your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: first and foremost, this movie is a tour de force for Ralph Fiennes who in addition to starring also directed this movie, I believe his debut as a director. His portrayal of Charles Dickens brims with energy. It is amazing to see how successful Dickens was in his day, truly getting the rock star treatment of that era. Second, the performance of Felicity Jones as Ellen oozes charm from start to finish. She is a veteran of the UK film and TV industry but not so well known on this side of the Atlantic. I think that can possibly change following this performance. Third, the production itself is done exquisitely and hence it is no surprise that this movie just scored an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. Last but not least, the movie does a great job bringing the dilemma between the feelings of the two protagonists on the one hand, and the demands/standards imposed by society on the other hand. At one point, Dickens asks Nelly to share a secret with him, and she informs him that her middle name is "Lawless". When she in turns asks for a secret from Dickens, he whispers "Ellen Lawless Ternan... that is my secret", wow.
I recently saw this movie at the Regal South Beach in Miami, and even though I saw it at a weekday matinée screening, the screening was quite well attended (leaning heavily towards women, I might add). It may be there there is a strong demand for this movie, which would be great, as this is certainly a movie that deserves to be seen. Bottom line: if you are in the mood for something that is miles away from your standard Hollywood fare, and learn a thing or two about Charles Dickens along the way, you cannot go wrong with this, be it in the theater or on DVD/Blu-ray. "The Invisible Woman" is worth checking out!
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