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 »
As an Anglophile, Dickens aficionado, and period movie lover, I had Great Expectations about this movie (wink!). Alas, I was barely able to force myself to sit through to the end.
The movie does little to shed light on Dickens' inner motivations or character, and has even less to say about the authorial process or creative impulse. The romance at the heart of the story falls flat because the female lead (the eponymous Invisible Woman) is not just invisible but for the most part inexpressive: she doesn't talk, she doesn't emote, doesn't communicate.
The plot contains a number of disjoint, unconnected episodes that add nothing to our understanding of the characters. The character interactions are awkward, forced, and unappealing.
On the positive side, the score contains some magnificent cello music; the sets and costumes are lavish; the architecture and landscapes are beautifully presented. Scott-Thomas turns in a solid matronly role as the love interest's mother. But nothing can fill the vacuum left at the heart of this film by Felicity Jones' non- performance. In fact, this is much more of a French film in English clothing, given the minimalist plot, long silences, and generally depressing atmosphere.
Avoid at all costs.
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