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The Invisible Woman

Score: 77%
Rating: R
Publisher: Sony Pictures Home

Region: A
Media: Blu-ray/2
Running Time: 111 Mins.
Genre: Drama/Biographical/Historical
Audio: English, Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD
           MA. Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French,
           Portuguese, Spanish


  • Commentary with Ralph Fiennes & Felicity Jones
  • On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Premiere
  • SAG Foundation Conversations with Ralph Fiennes & Felicity Jones
  • Toronto International Film Festival Press Conference

Picture a time when women really had no place of prominence in society on their own, and a female actress had even less so, because with the semi-fame and very low salary that comes with acting in the theater comes the reputation of loose morals. Ellen "Nelly" Ternan (Felicity Jones), an eighteen year old girl who comes from an acting family, finds herself in just such a situation. Her father is dead and she and her mother and sisters subsist on their meager wages as actresses, yet they live a simple, happy life. One day, Nelly is called in to act in a play being put on by one Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and the two immediately hit it off with each other. Charles, with his passion for the theater and Nelly, being a strong and independent woman with a quest for knowledge, find themselves drawn to each other, even though Charles is 20+ years her senior and already married to Catherine (Joanna Scanlan) and is father to a flock of children. Regardless, the pair begin a friendship that starts with fondness but later turns into love and passion, and this relationship is even helped along by Nelly's mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), who hopes for a better life for Nelly. Nelly will soon discover that not only does Charles have a cruel streak, but she will always play second fiddle to his beloved audience. Worse yet, she will forever remain in the shadows as he cannot bear to taint his beloved reputation as a family man.

The Invisible Woman takes place during two time periods: the one described above with Nelly as a young woman, and a time many years later, when Dickens has long since died and Nelly finds herself married to the owner of a school for boys. As she directs the students in Dickens' plays, she reflects upon her past as a young girl and the choices she made in her life. The viewer is taken on a journey with Nelly, one of love and sadness, her life with Charles Dickens.

I must admit, I had no idea that a secret mistress existed in Dickens' life until I saw this film. Based upon the biography by Claire Tomalin, the film chronicles the relationship between Ternan and Dickens, showing it for exactly what it was - a forbidden love that both parties engaged in, regardless of the pain it caused to themselves and others. I found the film quite interesting and I find myself compelled to read Great Expectations and some of Dickens' later works, as these are said to be strongly influenced by Nelly, with Dickens even basing a character on her.

Ralph Fiennes not only stars as Dickens, but he also directs the film, and a beautiful film it is, with long shots of Nelly walking the beaches in contemplation and luscious theatrical set pieces of the period. Fiennes and Jones are fantastic together, but I must admit that my favorite is the spectacular Amanda Hale as Fanny, Nelly's older sister. She simply shines in everything she is in and I love watching her.

There are a handful of special features relating to the release of the film at the Toronto International Film Festival and they include a Q&A, a press conference, and some Red Carpet coverage where Fiennes and Jones discuss the film at length. I found these interesting, but they are probably more for the enthusiast than anyone else. There is also audio commentary with Fiennes and Jones, which is basically them bantering about the film and their memories during filming, and such.

Overall, the film is well acted and intriguing, but not for everyone. If you have any interest in the famous author Charles Dickens and the dark secret that his family kept hidden until every one of them had died, check out The Invisible Woman.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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