Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman has been on my TBW list for a while now, and I finally got to see it in a tiny art house theatre on a frigid Canadian Saturday night. I was in just the right mood for this meandering stylish film. I have to preface this by saying that I am an appreciative reader of Dickens and I had just finished Claire Tomalin's book the night before, on which the screenplay was based. In case you have never heard of said invisible woman, Ellen (Nelly) Ternan was the young actress with whom Charles Dickens had a long affair over the last decade or so of his life.

So we find that Mr. Dickens has feet of clay after all. This is a story as old as humanity. A powerful middle aged male finds himself attracted to a girl less than half his age and ends up separating from his wife and acting on his urges. Except in this case Dickens was a national treasure in England, and a champion of Victorian family values.

The casting of Ralph Fiennes as Dickens turns out to be quite brilliant. A randy old ham playing a randy old ham. Perfect! And Felicity Jones is an amazing talent and gives us a peek into Nelly Ternan, conflicted and flattered and desperately in need of a protector.

All of the supporting cast are wonderful, from Kristin Scott Thomas as Nelly's similarly conflicted mother, to Tom Hollander as a heavily bearded Wilkie Collins, to Joanna Scanlan baring body and soul as Catherine Dickens.

Kudos to Ralph Fiennes as director for not painting anyone in this story as the "bad guy". This story is a tragedy but without a villain.

So if this sounds good to you then go ahead and enjoy it. But don't drag anyone who wouldn't appreciate the slow pace or anyone without even a remote interest in Dickens. Here is the trailer if you haven't seen it:



  1. I missed it during its short run in Boulder, so I have it on my calendar to go when it is featured at an art film house in March. Cannot wait!

    Glad to hear the casting worked so well (randy old ham playing randy old ham!). Tom Hollander as Wilkie Collins is sheer brilliance.

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