The Invisible Woman
PRODS Gaby Tana, Stewart Mackinnon, Christian Baute
SCR Abi Morgan
CAM Rob Hardy
ED Nicolas Gaster
PROD DES Maria Djurkovic
PROD CO Headline Pictures Ltd. / Magnolia Mae Films / BBC Films / British Film Institute
Ralph Fiennes does double duty as director and star in this pitch-perfect drama chronicling the secret relationship between Charles Dickens (Fiennes) and the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones, a revelation here).
Nelly, a happily married mother and school teacher, is haunted by her past. Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Dickens, with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity. Dickens—45 years old, married with children, famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success—falls for the 18-year-old Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre—Dickens was a brilliant amateur actor—was a vital arena for the writer, a man who was always more emotionally coherent in his work, or on stage, than in his day-to-day life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens’ passion, and his muse, secrecy is the price that both must pay. But for Nelly, that secrecy extends to invisibility—any public acknowledgement of the truth in rumours of their affair would bring scandal and ruin to all.
Although Victorian London is brought to vibrant life by Fiennes and his veteran cinematographer Rob Hardy (Shadow Dancer), this—as one might expect from Fiennes—is really a vehicle for the actors. Fiennes is his usual impeccable self, while Kristin Scott Thomas (as Mrs. Dickens), Tom Hollander (writer Wilkie Collins) and Joanna Scanlan also shine. But it’s the luminous Felicity Jones who steals the show—this rising star is on her way to becoming a household name.