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 (email@example.com)
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 »
When collecting cash for the hospital, there is an 1895 Crown coin on the plate. Charles Dickens died in 1870. 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 full cast list (in order of appearance) is presented in the style of a Dickens era theatre programme, with contemporary font and the performers' names preceded by "Mr." or "Ms." See more »
Watching this excellent subtle film develop provides an antidote to the standard wham bam don't bore the audience movies, the ones that get all the attention. This is gorgeous to look at, and it is thoughtful and fascinating for Dickens enthusiasts. Yes, it does take its time; it does challenge an audience to pay attention. It reveals another aspect to Charles Dickens genius, and it does so without adjusting our pleasure in the extraordinary books he wrote. To give ten stars is partly political, because this film does not merit an absolute score. But it gets its ten because others have rated it too low. The evocation of an 'early modern' life is beautifully suggested. The excellence of Claire Tomalin's fascinating book, on which the film is based, is only broadly sketched. The film would need to be a long running series to adequately explore and contain the book's riches. Fiennes has taken a broad brush because he has to. If it stimulates an audience to explore further then the book will flesh out some of the questions that remain hidden in the film. The real person that was Charles Dickens cannot be fully comprehended in a book or a film about him, but his energetic complexity and his constant invention of other lives is revealed in both. Neither the film or the book moralises or attempts to blame; what we see and read about is complex, and aspects of a very great writer are understood and revealed.
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