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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With The Invisible Woman being the second feature in which Ralph Fiennes tackles Charles Dickens, you may say that the thespian, already known for his love of Shakespeare, has developed a new romance with English literature.
With Fiennes at the helm, this biographical drama, based on the book by Claire Tomalin, takes a stroll into the private life of the public figure, Charles Dickens. Although The Invisible Woman positions itself at the heart of the Victorian literate, this is in fact the story of Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones); hence the title.
The bulk of this character-piece plays out as a flashback, as the narrative oscillates between the world of Dickens and the world post-Dickens. The mysterious title refers to the young Nelly, an avid-admirer of the literary colossus, as she enters into a secret affair with her idol. She spends the best part of her youth amorously involved with the writer, but given that Dickens was a lot older, it was inevitable that she would outlive her lover.
Alone with her thoughts, Nelly, dressed in mournful black, marches along the beaches of Margate like a sleepwalker in the night, tormented by the loss of her companion; she must find a way to bring that chapter of her life to a close so that she may now move on.
The picture paints Dickens as the talented and charitable man that he was, however we are also privy to a more sinister side of the wordsmith, as we learn of his malicious actions towards his wife (played by Joanna Scanlon).
The camera takes its time, as it soaks up the brilliant performances of the cast and Abi Morgan's (Shame, The Iron Lady) masterful script provides a titillating narrative, as it transports us to the Dickensian period. Ultimately, The Invisible Woman stands as a beautifully crafted piece of filmmaking, however, it somewhat pales in comparison to Fiennes' earlier, more vigorous work. Anthony Lowery
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