Add a Review

  • 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

    www.moviematrix.co.uk
  • "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!
  • There was a film called "The Invisible Woman", a sequel to "The Invisible Man", from 1940, but there is no connection between that film and the 2013 version. This film is not science fiction but the story of the love affair between Charles Dickens and his mistress Nelly Ternan. Nelly is "invisible" in the sense that Dickens, worried about the possible effect on sales of his books, is forced to keep her existence a secret, even though it is common knowledge that he and his wife Catherine have separated. Intercut with the main action are scenes showing Nelly's later life in the 1880s, more than a decade after Dickens's death, as the wife of a man named George Wharton Robinson.

    I had previously always thought of Nelly as a gold-digging bimbo, a talentless actress who used her good looks to snare a famous, wealthy older man and lure him away from his wife. That is not, however, how she is portrayed in this film. It is, in fact, Dickens who comes off badly. As played by Ralph Fiennes (who also directed) he comes across as a jovial, fun-loving party animal, revelling in his fame and celebrity, but also deeply selfish, not only in the way he treats Catherine but also in the way he treats Nelly. Nelly herself, by contrast is portrayed as a rather serious young woman, who in many ways shares conventional Victorian attitudes towards sex. She is, for example, shocked to discover that Wilkie Collins, Dickens's friend and fellow novelist, lives quite openly with a woman to whom he is not married. She is in love with Dickens, but is distressed by her ambiguous status and by the fact that their relationship cannot be acknowledged. She is shown giving birth to a stillborn son in France, a detail which clearly betrays the film's origins in Claire Tomalin's controversial biography. I should perhaps point out that not all Dickens scholars are convinced by Ms Tomalin's thesis that Nelly bore his child. (Indeed, some even insist that their relationship was platonic). The fact that the issue is still so shrouded in mystery and controversy, however, does indicate just what lengths he went to in order to protect his privacy.

    The Nelly of this film is therefore a complex character, far more than a mere Victorian bimbo, and it is a tribute to the talents of the lovely Felicity Jones, an actress I was not previously familiar with, that she emerges as someone both likable and entirely credible. Fiennes is also good as Dickens, a man uneasily aware that in leaving his wife for another woman he is betraying the family values he once so assiduously championed. (He even called the magazine he edited "Household Words"). Other good contributions come from Kristin Scott Thomas as Nelly's mother and Joanna Scanlan as Mrs Dickens. Although Catherine was the "innocent party" in the breakdown of her marriage, it is all too clear from Scanlan's interpretation just why Dickens felt unable to live with this dull, frumpy woman.

    Fiennes the actor is fine, but I was less taken with Fiennes the director. The pace of the film can be excessively slow and the switches between the chronologically earlier scenes, taking place in the late 1850s or 1860s, and the later ones, taking place in the 1880s, were too abrupt and made the story difficult at times to follow. It didn't help that Felicity Jones (aged about 30) looks much the same age in the later scenes (when Nelly would have been in her forties) as she does in the early ones (when she would have been in her teens or twenties). Felicity does have a different hairstyle in the later scenes, but the purpose of this seems to have been to mark the changes in fashion between the 1860s and the 1880s, not to make her look older.

    Another thing that surprised me was that the film did not deal directly with Dickens's death or with the immediate impact this had on Nelly's life. It struck me that this was one time when Nelly's status as the "invisible woman" worked in her favour; had she been openly acknowledged as Dickens's mistress she would, given the often hypocritical attitudes of the Victorians towards extra-marital sex, have found it very difficult to make a respectable marriage after the sudden, unexpected death of her protector while he was still in his fifties. (She might have found this difficult even if Dickens had obtained a divorce and made her his second wife). Possibly, however, the scriptwriters avoided any speculation of this nature because it would not have fitted in well with their view of Nelly as the innocent victim of her lover's selfishness.

    The film is made in the best British "heritage cinema" style and will doubtless find favour with many fans of that style of film-making. I was, however, in some ways disappointed with it, feeling that its structure could have been clearer and that it could have dealt with this aspect of Charles Dickens's life in greater depth. 7/10
  • 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.
  • "Every human creature is a profound secret and mystery to every other."

    In this follow up to his directorial debut, Coriolanus, Ralph Fiennes directs himself as Charles Dickens focusing on a specific period of his life rather than on a full blown biography. I am a huge fan of Dickens' work and have read many of his novels, but this film focuses on his later years after he had become a successful and respected writer. He was a very popular figure during the Victorian Age and we get glimpses of this here in The Invisible Woman as he struggles to hide his affection for a teenage stage actress he encounters named Nelly Ternan (played by Felicity Jones). Dickens is married, but he finds no fulfillment in his wife who doesn't understand his work. But since he's such a public figure, he must keep his affair a secret which is something Nelly finds hard to accept. This period piece stands out visually thanks to the beautiful costume design and setting which transports us to the Victorian Age. The Oscar nomination for achievement in costume design was well deserved although it lost out to The Great Gatsby. The performances from Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes were superb and the chemistry between them was strong, but the major issue with this film has to do with its slow pacing. The film is a little less than two hours long, but it feels like much more. However it's hard to resist this film due to the charm that Fiennes' Dickens evokes on the viewer. We have read his novels where he bears his soul about his troubled and difficult past (David Copperfield is my favorite work of his and it is his most autobiographical one), but I really never pictured him as this successful writer who enjoyed the spotlight and had such charisma. Its that very essence of Dickens that got me through the movie.

    The Invisible Woman was adapted by Abi Morgan from Claire Tomalin's book and it focuses on Dickens' affair from Nelly's point of view as she dealt with the pain of their secret relationship despite having a privileged life. Everything about this period piece looks beautiful, but still it feels like its missing something and I quite can't figure it out yet. I can't fully grasp the mystery as to why Nelly accepted to live this life while internally she despised herself for it. The film doesn't bear her soul, but only shows signs of this externally through her strong performance. She is troubled and despite her admiration for Dickens' work we don't see that same passion in her eyes that he shares for her. The supporting performances from Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, and Joanna Scanlan do lift the movie. Scanlan plays an important role as Dickens' wife as she comes to grasp the reality of her husband's affair. It's the poor way she's treated by Dickens that turns her off. However, Dickens is so charming that it's hard not to like him. Scott Thomas plays Nelly's mother and she is the one that convinces her to accept the life Dickens offers her. The film explores this complex relationship and it succeeds in most part thanks to the strong performances but it still fails to engage us more in their world. Just like Nelly's repressed emotions, the film at times feels repressed and doesn't quite manage to open up for the audience.
  • tamara7519 December 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    I saw The Invisible Woman by Ralph Fiennes Monday night. The film is about Charles Dickens; played by Fiennes, and his young lover Nelly; played by Felicity Jones. Dickens meets Nelly during the height of his career. The film highlights what options there were for ladies of that time. Nelly's family was made up of lady actors with considerable skills. These skills allowed them to book job after job. It was determined that Nelly's acting was sub par though she was very well read and versed in all things literate and theatric. Her mother notices immediately Charles inclinations towards her youngest daughter Nelly. Not only does the actual actress possess good clarity of emotions shown through subtle changes in her eyes and facial expressions, but also Felicity is able to perform the flat acting for her character, which the character is accused of doing by her thespian family.

    Along with her mother's immediate notice of Charles fondness for Nelly, Charles's wife Catherine notices Charles's visage as he perks up greatly in Nelly's presence. The only one not to take notice of Charles's fancy is the barely eighteen-year old herself. This lack of knowledge, however, does not stop her mother Frances from putting Nelly directly in Mr. Dickens path. Frances feels this is Nelly's best chance at acquiring resources for living a decent life. Nelly had been an admirer of Dickens's work and of his careful cultivation of the written and spoken word. When she is awakened to what is being orchestrated for her, she feels greatly unjust for the loss and cruelty Dickens exhibits towards the mother of his numerous children, Catherine, as he pursues her instead.

    The film speaks to the trials many women have gone through over the ages; of not being in a social standing equivalent to men, of not being allowed to pursue work and lovers with the same nod of approval and understanding society allows for men, and of not being paid the same as men for the same work. Options given to ladies, even educated and cultivated ones, resort to the comforts their bodies offer in flesh, mind, and spirit. Men are free to roam the cabin and go out into the greater world to frolic as they wish. Meanwhile the women, Dickens's wife and his lover, are left with plenty of resources; a place to live, children, and food, but these ladies are not seemingly able to go in search of ambitions of their own. Their lot is to wait for the attentions of one selfish but successful man's desires and whims.

    The saving grace for Nelly in the film is that she very much loved Dickens, he left her in good standing as far as her material needs, and their love was quiet enough that it didn't harm her reputation as she was simply his kept woman. She goes on to live a full if haunted life, remarries, teaches school children acting, and has a child with her husband.

    It is a film that speaks to the ages. Charles's success in career and in becoming more than he was as a child, is a prominent feature of Dickens's life as portrayed in this film. He was gregarious, charming, and well sought after to speak, read, and act his writings and plays. The artist felt emptiness in his personal life, though he soared in his career's success. His poor wife Catherine was left wearily trailing in his path. Still a living breathing artist, he found new heights to experience in his new love. I don't know that the human condition, that seeks happiness in coupling with another, is ever one that is fully satisfied. A delicious film all around with room to ponder life's what ifs.
  • A jewel: the 19th century and Charles Dickens come alive in this jewel directed and starring Ralph Fiennes. The heavily garbed women, great sweeps of countryside, and living in little houses "in town," and even the poor and "fallen women" on the streets of London come to life. Charles Dickens too: a entertaining man in real life, not just in his fiction and plays. An interesting plot with sympathetic treatment: how could one have an affair in the 19th century, examined from every perspective: from the great man, who also loves his public - Dickens is a superstar - his best friend, Wilkie Collins, the mystery writer, who doesn't believe in the institution of marriage, the woman Dickens loves, her mother, the great man's wife, the whispering public, a non-judgmental vicar. Dickens seems a man for our own time. No wonder Fiennes wanted to bring him to life. Felicity Jones co-stars, and she brings virginal purity, and passion and ferocity at times to the part. A good acting company as well. The kind of production one expects from the British.
  • If a renowned writer were to embark in an affair with a younger woman, it would make some headlines, generate some chatter but most of us will leave it at that.

    That was not the case in the 1850's. When esteemed author Charles Dickens begun an affair, all sorts of efforts were put in place to stop it from becoming public. Divorce in that time, was an absolute scandal, an abomination.

    So, this young, attractive, talented woman who in all certainty had a profound effect in the works of one of the most respected writers in the English language was in effect an invisible woman. Whilst she was the centre of Dickens' world, the world ought to not know her. Such were those times.

    Whilst it might appear as sluggish, even flat that is not so. We get to observe the effect of the affair amongst people who had a compulsion to appear composed and reserved at all times. It is a glimpse in to a world gone by.
  • Claire Tomalin in the first chapter of 'The Invisible Woman' states that Fanny and Ellen Ternan were 'written out of any biographies of both Dickens and Trollope for two reasons'. Thus begins the first of many such statements that appear in her book that can't be substantiated. They are not facts, though they are presented as such. Any film based on the book by Claire Tomalin can only suffer, as a result, from the contrived nature and bias of the book.

    Yes, this film might have deserved 8 out of 10 stars if Charles Dickens hadn't come into it and it was simply the story of a writer who had an affair with a much younger woman in Victorian times. Unfortunately, Charles Dickens does come into it, and he has come into it in every review and discussion about this film that I've come across so far.

    The first half of Ralph Fiennes' film is beautifully nuanced and utterly delightful in its depiction of Dickens and his relationship with the Ternan family through their mutual love of the theatre. The developing relationship between Dickens and Ellen Ternan is persuasive in cinematic terms - until the downward slide into the mire of 'revelations' spawned by Claire Tomalin's book.

    Stripped of meaningful content, cinematography and acting too become meaningless. When a film is based on the life of a great writer like Charles Dickens, those who have read widely about his life and work will feel uneasy when he is taken out of context to fulfil a role aggressively forced on him by a less than scrupulous biographer or film maker. The so-called 'revelations' translated to film may spoil one's enjoyment of the narrative as surely as a poor reproduction of a film to a DVD will lessen its visual impact.

    Those who have a scant knowledge of Dickens and his work will more easily be able to accept this depiction of the writer and the man. Sadly, like many of the reviewers and others connected with the film, they may then become 'authorities' on Charles Dickens and his relationship with Ellen Ternan and busily go about perpetuating myths and gross distortions of facts.

    By the time furtive sex is followed by the birth of a still-born child and Dickens and Ellen appear unchaperoned in the Staplehurst train crash, the sound of Nelly's pacing on the beach at Margate becomes deafening - but also more laboured. We enter a world of fiction that is not nearly so satisfying. The more the film strays from known sources and tries to convince, the more it flounders and disappoints.

    One can only hope someone makes another film about Charles Dickens that does justice to everyone in a way that saves them from the strange mix of sexual fantasy and strident feminism they appear to have generated. While Nelly suffers from not having the reasons for the secrecy surrounding her relationship fully explored, Catherine Dickens and George Wharton Robinson suffer in a way that endows them with as much character as a couple of wooden pieces in a jig-saw puzzle.

    'It would be a far, far better thing' to stay home and read Dickens' letters or other biographies or more of Dickens' own writing or Edward Wagenknecht's 'Dickens and the Scandalmongers' or more about the social and sexual mores of the time than to believe this film could possibly shed any light on the less stereotypical but more complex relationship between Charles Dickens and Ellen Ternan.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Charles Dickens' Victorian world was a male-centered order. As a huge and beloved celebrity he had the money and power to do anything — and anyone — he wanted. His family had to read in his letter in The Times that he had separated from them — and his lie that there was no truth in the rumours about his affair with Nelly.

    Both Dickens and the mature Nelly have spouses that don't understand them. Dickens humiliates his wife by sending her to deliver his birthday gift to his mistress. Nelly keeps her husband in ignorance, claiming she only knew Dickens when she was nine. The man can afford to humiliate his wife; the woman has to nurse her husband's illusion in order to survive. Indeed, Nelly is ushered into the affair by her own mother's acknowledgment that Nelly has no future as an actress and has no better prospect than becoming the great man's mistress.

    The film repeats Dickens' quote that everyone has a secret, remains a mystery to everyone else. Nelly wistfully hopes two lovers can grow so close as to understand each other's mystery. Not in any of the families here. Dickens seduces her through an ostensible exchange of secrets. Her's is that her middle name is Lawless; his "secret" is his love for her. She is named Lawless but only he has the power to be lawless. In a railcar crash he denies travelling with her and is more concerned with rescuing a page of his manuscript than caring for her.

    The film remarkably captures the Victorian life, in the parlor, on the stage, in the sordid streets. But for all its period flavour, from the lights of celebrity to the shadows of the secret life, it's less about Dickens' hidden lover than about the continuing social order that even today privileges the male and suppresses the female. Dickens and his invisible woman serve as a reflection of the current social hierarchy. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.
  • I did not plan to see this film, feeling that seeing 'The Invisible Woman' did not offer me anything unexpected, however a quirk of fate meant that I was fated to see it. This is rather appropriate, since fate seems to play an important part in this film.

    Film opens on a beach. A woman is striding along it with a most purposeful gait. However she has rather a distracted manner about her. As the film develops, through long flash-back scenes, we learn about her earlier life.

    The woman, really no more than a slip of a girl, is Nelly, played by Felicity Jones. Nelly is an actress, part of an acting family. A play is the device which causes Nelly to meet the famous writer Charles Dickens, played by actor Ralph Feinnes.

    This film is a true story of how their meeting changed their lives. In style it reminded me of 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' (1981). Like that film, this one too jumps backwards and forwards in time. However, unlike 'TFLW', this film is not a film within a film. Although, having said that, the play where they met, does set the tone for the film. This is of course a story of fatal attraction, however there are no bunny-boilers in this film. Here rather, the protagonists, play out to the full, the hand dealt by destiny.

    The film is set in the Victorian era. This was a time of high moral standards that restricted freedom in social behaviour. It was also a period of much (secret) hypocrisy. All this is captured well in the film. Captured too, is the keen eye of Charles Dickens, which made him justly famous. This is shown well in a key scene.

    Charles Dickens was very famous, and his celebrity-status has an almost modern-day feel to it. He is a larger-than-life character, the life-and-soul of the party, a real party animal. Other actors could have played the role, the excellent Simon Callow has in the past, however one year on from his title-role in 'Lincoln', once again Ralph Feinnes becomes the character he is playing. Not for one moment do you doubt that you are seeing Charles Dickens in this film.

    Wilkie Collins, a friend of Dickens, is played by Tom Hollander. This supporting role is well played by this versatile actor. Last year, he impressed this reviewer, with his two contrasting roles in 'About Time' and 'Byzantium'.

    While the men in this film are shown enjoying life to the full, the same cannot be said about the women. In the title role, and completely deserving of her top billing, Felicity Jones gives a pitch-perfect performance. We see an innocent girl mature, realize the realities of her situation and the times, but at the same time remaining gutsy and upholding her standards. These inner struggles are at the heart of this film.

    Nelly's mother is played by Kirstin Scott Thomas, and she gives a very subtle performance, that perfectly captures the ambiguities of the situation, and the time. Joanne Scanlan, has perhaps a very hard role, playing Mrs Dickens. She is the mother of his large brood of children, some still young children. However the scenes between husband and wife show that they are very different and convey problems in the marriage. Mrs Dickens seems a rather stoic figure. She is not portrayed very sympathetically, but rather as dull, quiet and unimaginative. In this film, the part of Mrs Dickens, was never going to be an easy or sympathetic one, but Miss Scanlan delivers a believable and poignant one.

    All of the women in this film show that they are trapped by their environment. Their choices are limited, and this is shown well in the film, as well as by the actresses playing their parts.

    The last film I saw at the cinema, previous to this, was 'Jack Ryan: Shadow Agent'. Like that film, this one too is directed by one of the actors, and also directed well too. Mr Feinnes demonstrates a fine directing eye. I particularly liked, the slightly disconcerting shots; the complete silence that emphasised the enormity of the passion, the extreme close-ups that reinforced the concept of memories. Even the short horse race scene, which at first seemed artificial, ended authentically, and very cleverly conveyed the anticipation, immediacy, and speed, of a race. From the first bustle onwards, costumes and all other aspects of this period drama seemed truly authentic and without a wrong note. Bravo! Mr Feinnes, Bravo!

    This thought-provoking period-drama has elements of love, romance and tragedy. It is a perfectly crafted piece of work and a fitting tribute to all involved. True story. 10/10. Bravissimo!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Abi Morgan's screenplay, based on Claire Tomalin's book of the same name, tells the story of Charles Dickens' (Ralph Fiennes') affair with 18-year-old Ellen ("Nelly") Ternan (Felicity Jones). The film contains some memorable visual images: both Dickens and Nelly are seen staring out of a train window, their reflections seen in the glass, suggesting imprisonment, both mental and physical. There is a recurring image of Nelly walking across the deserted beach in Margate, Kent; like Dickens she had grown fond on brisk walks, but this walk suggests that she is going nowhere fast - an apt metaphor for her love-affair with Dickens. The interiors are photographed in dark colors, with an eye for pictorial detail reminiscent of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING (2003); they seem claustrophobic, hemming Nelly in as she tries to come to terms with her feelings. There is one memorable sequence in fellow author Wilkie Collins' (Tom Hollander's) house, where director Fiennes' camera focuses on her face as she looks wildly from side to side; she just has to run outside at any cost, in order to sustain her sanity. The film focuses relentlessly on the two protagonists; there is very little music on the soundtrack, and all we can hear in the background is the crackle of the fire, the drip of the tap, or the rustle of the trees. Through such strategies director Fiennes forces us to concentrate on the characters' feelings. Yet despite these moments of technical and visual brilliance, the film remains uncertain about its moral priorities. On the one hand Dickens is presented as a family man, perpetually concerned with doing the right thing; but he cannot escape the moral consequences of his actions. He treats his wife and family shamefully and insists at one point that he can have a lover and still sustain his public image. From then on, everything he tries to do to improve Nelly's position - buying her a new house, fixing her up with an acting job - only makes things worse. He lacks the moral strength to do the right thing, however much he protests otherwise. We are left to wonder exactly what Fiennes thinks of Dickens, as it's not clear how he is presented in the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    To the critics...get a life! Do you know how difficult it is to create a film about Charles Dickens, celebrity of the Victorian era which is a very long time ago AND get all the atmosphere of this period of history 100% in place? The costumes, the props, the locations and the acting are beyond wonderful. It is almost as if one steps back in to history during The Invisible Woman and tastes the world when celebrity was all about writing books and giving readings...without the mass marketing of celebrity culture. Dickens is marvellously portrayed by Fiennes, a middle aged Dickens by then, with Tom Hollander giving an equally good performance as Wilkie Collins. Dickens is at the height of his fame, but still proving himself and making sure he keeps his reputation firmly in place which is a necessity in Victorian times. It is amazing to see the struggle of the people at that time; the poverty and the hardship that Dickens wrote so well about - but also the confines of a super judgemental society and how women were still kept firmly in their place too!. Dickens had a large family and he was a large character - his family were there but he was not engaged as a family man except in terms of having his entertainment. Felicity Jones is gorgeous and accomplished in her role as the actress Dickens falls in love with and takes as his mistress. Her life as it would have been, is laid bare with Jones giving a wonderful insight in to the Victorian dilemma of sex and passion versus respectability and role of women in society. This is a top class film and puts many of the current films out there to shame.
  • PipAndSqueak13 February 2014
    Here we go again. Let's rewrite history using modern day morality to define the dialogue shall we? This doesn't work, never did work and won't ever work in the future. Writers/producers/directors please take note. No wonder the cinema was near enough empty, people know to give this kind of tripe a wide berth. Factually, very little about this 're-imagining' of the Dickens/Ternan tale fits. Its all topsy turvy and all the more unbelievable for being so. The story as told here has no dramatic tension, fails to use the real emotional 'turning points' (and instead moves rapidly past them as if they were embarrassing episodes not to be referenced like nervous farts at a Premier). Couldn't get out of the auditorium fast enough. Consign to bin.
  • drjgardner11 February 2014
    The film is rich in atmosphere, recreating the sights and sounds of the Victorian era, along with some excellent acting on the part of all the actors, especially Felicity Jones who plays Charles Dickens' "invisible woman". But the story is overly long, taking too much time to tell the tale, as if this film itself were one of Dickens' serialized novels for which he was paid by the page. In addition, the strange choice to have no musical sound track detracts from the film, leaving it bland in spots. There is some merit with turning down the music and listening to life, but there is equal merit to having the music accompany the scene, and this film doesn't strike a good balance. Fiennes' previous directorial effort "Coriolanus" (2011) was excellent, but the current film demonstrates he has a lot more to learn.
  • We went to see this full of expectation and hope, and came away bored to tears by the slow plot (or lack of) and uninspired or poor acting. Early in the film Ellen (Nellie) is shown as a very poor actress in a play. What I didn't realise was that this is as good as she gets! Full of lengthy close ups of a face that expressed nothing and never changed throughout the film whatever was going on in the thin plot. The audience we shared this experience with had been lively and talkative before it began but all looked numbed into silence when the lights went up at the end. The worst film we have seen for many years. Don't waste your time!!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I wish I could say that this film left me with greater insight into the character of Charles Dickens, but it did not. I found its portrayal of him very unfocused. I understand that human beings are complex and not easily labeled, and I was prepared to see a multi- dimensional character, but that isn't really what I saw. It felt as if the character of Mr Dickens was somehow cobbled together without the script really knowing where it wanted to take him.

    The film is, ostensibly, more about Nelly than it is about Dickens, but it didn't always feel that way.

    The atmosphere and sets were well done. The bleakness of Victorian life for those without money or security was well conveyed. This setting is important to the story because it helps to explain why Nelly and her mother both felt that being Dickens' mistress was a good career and life choice for Nelly.

    At times I wished the film would pick up the pace. There was a little bit too much gazing blankly out of windows by Nelly in particular. At times it felt that the story was moving much too slowly.

    All in all, the movie was oddly paced, bland, and somewhat rambling.
  • Now this really did feel like such a type of cliché, the type of British period piece that puts people to sleep. it sounds like quite a lazy criticism, and in a way it is, but it comes down to that. This was just not very interesting, and as a result, kind of dull. It's not "bad" though so I feel like I owe it at least some stars, and the acting is good and the technical aspects very good as well. I just wish it was better as a film overall. Fiennes is good, but jones is really the heart and soul of the film and remains a very interesting, captivating performer that I hope to see a lot of in the future. So yes, I don't really recommend this, but it's definitely an admirable effort from all involved.
  • Here we have yet another costume drama about the hugely talented artist who benefits from the social injustices of his day to sleep with the woman he wants. Haven't we seen that before? However, given Dickens's reputation as the tireless champion of the poor and downtrodden, it is pretty horrifying to watch him for two hours making the most of his social status to have his ways with a poor innocent, fatherless girl half his age. Surprisingly, there is not one ounce of passion in this movie to explain her infatuation with him. Nor is there much social commentary other than the quotes from Dickens himself, whose character the film casts such doubts on. However, there is an endless supply of period gowns and props and sun-drenched garden scenes to lighten the mood. I don't think this is a very good film, but if it is truthful, it is probably an important one in that it certainly puts the character of Charles Dickens in a new light.
  • Ralph Fiennes Directs the movie and plays the main character, Charles Dickens who was probably one of the most famous English authors of all time. At the high tog his career, he meets a young actress played by Felicity Jones, and against all odds and complications including age and the fact that Dickens is married, they fall in love. His wife played by Joanna Scanlan was great. The few scenes she was in were some of the best. I felt bad for her and for Dickens new lover in the end. The movie is more a commentary of women's rights or lack thereof in Victorian England. I can see why this movie was nominated for costume design. I wouldn't say I'm an expert, but what little I do know about the time period, everything seemed pretty accurate. Actually there was a lot of good things about this movie. Unfortunately, in the end it was just a little dull. Maybe it was the pacing. I always think that's one of the most important elements sin a movie. It can make a movie, where you don't think the plot would be interesting, actually good and visa versa. Other things I did like about the movie was the acting, cinematography and art direction. Rent it on Redbox or Netflix or something someday, or better yet, read one of his books. My favorite is Tale of Two Cities.
  • Review: I'm not a bit lover of period dramas, and I usually stay away from them because of the slow pace and the way that they are written, but I thought that I would give this movie a go as it was directed and starring Ralph Fiennes. I must admit, it did take some time for me to get into this film and I did find it quite boring in parts, but it's a well written love story with great performances from Fiennes and Felicity Jones. Everything was against the couple right from the beginning, so the outcome was predictable and tragic for Nelly Ternan. Anyway, for entertainment, it's didn't really have that much intense drama to keep me gripped to the screen, but it's a watchable romance movie that will touch some peoples heart. Average!

    Round-Up: Ralph Fiennes has starred in many period dramas over the years so it wasn't that surprising to see him direct a movie in this genre. I have seen him put in better performances in movies like Schindlers List, Red Dragon and Harry Potter, but that's because the role didn't demand that much from award winning actor. Felicity Jones is a very English actor and judging by her roles in Chalet Girl, The Tempest & Hysteria, is obvious that directors are typecasting her for the classic English roles. I found her quite stiff in this role and she could have showed some more emotion which would have brought some intensity to the movie. Anyway, I'm sure that there performances won't hurt there careers because the movie didn't exactly blow up at the box office.

    Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $1.3million (Terrible!)

    I recommend this movie to people who are into there period dramas about a girl who falls in love with Charles Dickens, against all odds. 4/10
  • Ralph Fiennes gives an intense performance as Dickens and his hair and beard look the part. Felicity Jones acts well but she is rather plain and common looking and someone more distinctively attractive would have been better as the central character like a young Carey Mulligan. Good to see Kristin Scott Thomas and Ralph Fiennes together again, they had more chemistry than Ralph and Felicity.

    There haven't been too many depictions of Charles Dickens on the big screen and it's sad it had to be about his affair. It does show some of the societal norms of the time about relationships and divorce etc. Bit of a let down not showing his death but so much of the courtship. Although they try to link the relationship to his output, the affair doesn't seem to reflect on his work at all. In fact the creative part of Dickens life isn't shown much.

    Overall slightly worth a watch but in the end I felt it wasn't terribly interesting?
  • roadjunkies5 June 2018
    Outstanding work, Mr. Fiennes! Everyone loves to happen upon a film and be delightfully surprised to find it's a treasure! Your work is a startlingly underrated film directed by a gifted hand. with no weak links. All elements of the film are strong: Acting, directing, editing, script, costume, lighting and set design harmonize to do justice to the subject matter. Creative license was with a light touch; casting was spot-on. A good director has an ear for dialogue; a great director an ear for silence. Mr. Fiennes, heartfelt thanks for your refreshing use of silence in the movie. Also, thank you for allowing your supporting actors to shine. All actors forgot themselves in their roles, no one chewed the scenery This was due to expert casting and direction.

    Do I believe a familiarity with the life of Charles Dickens and his work contribute to an enjoyment of this film? Yes. Am I sympathetic towards those who do not know the work of Dickens or his contemporaries? No.
An error has occured. Please try again.