My friends and I recently watched the film The Invisible Woman, starring Ralph Fiennes as the celebrated writer Charles Dickens, Felicity Jones as his young mistress Nelly, Kristin Scott Thomas as Nelly's mother, Tom Hollander as Dickens' friend Wilkie Collins, and Joanna Scanlan as Dickens' wife Catherine.
The Invisible Woman is beautifully directed by its star Ralph Fiennes, and adapted from Claire Tomalin's biography also titled The Invisible Woman, about Dickens' secret mistress, Nelly Ternan.
Ralph Fiennes does a fine job of portraying Dickens as a man of contradictions, a man at times highly insensitive to the feelings of his wife and family, but also highly sympathetic, compassionate, and generous toward the downtrodden in society.
Charles Dickens was a superstar in his day, constantly followed and reported on by the press. Dickens apparently enjoyed his popularity a great deal, even though it forced him to hide his years-long relationship with Nelly at a great cost to both of them, but mostly to Nelly, who was twenty-seven years his junior.
Dizzie: Dickens was writing great novels, making personal appearances all over the world, giving innumerable public readings, raising money for charity, staging plays, fathering ten children, and carrying on a secret life with Nelly. Honestly, how did he find the time? That's what I want to know!
Alfie Cat: They didn't have TV back then, for one thing.
Lilly Faye: Back to the movie, the scenery and costumes are exquisite, and directors of today's action movies could learn a thing or two from studying Fiennes' masterful direction of a reenactment of the Staplehurst train crash of 1865.
Alfie Cat: The Invisible Woman is rated R, but don't expect to see any hot sex between Dickens and Nelly. I stayed awake for nothing!
Lilly Faye: Readers interested in learning more about the affair between Dickens and Nelly Ternan might want to read the following piece from the January 31, 2014 issue of The Guardian:
How I Persuaded Ralph Fiennes to play Charles Dickens, by Claire Tomalin, author of The Invisible Woman, the Biography of Ellen Lawless Ternan
In the above article, Claire Tomalin tells the real-life ending to Nelly's story, which was not as happy as it is portrayed in the movie.
My U.S. readers might be interested in listening to the following December 2013 National Public Radio interview with the film's stars, Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes, who appeared on NPR's program All Things Considered:
After watching this film, I'm glad I'm living in the 21st Century, when a female is free to have her own blog and speak her own mind!
Lilly Faye's Movie Rating: Two Paws Up!