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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak houses & train wrecks
Ralph Fiennes proved with Coriolanus that he was a director to watch (we were already keenly watching him on the other side of the camera) and here he becomes one of Britain`s most promising directors, as well as a versatile, enterprising and unpredictable actor.
I would never have thought of Fiennes as a shoo-in to play the Inimitable - as Dickens was known in his...
Published 10 months ago by GlynLuke

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
As a keen Dickens fan and also a fan of Claire Tomalin's biographies on which this is based, I expected to love this. I didn't.

Hard to put a finger on why except that it seemed dull and the characters were not well developed. Dickens wife, in particular, was portrayed in a very bad light.
Published 5 months ago by sally seagull


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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bleak houses & train wrecks, 7 Feb 2014
By 
GlynLuke (York UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Ralph Fiennes proved with Coriolanus that he was a director to watch (we were already keenly watching him on the other side of the camera) and here he becomes one of Britain`s most promising directors, as well as a versatile, enterprising and unpredictable actor.
I would never have thought of Fiennes as a shoo-in to play the Inimitable - as Dickens was known in his short though hectic lifetime - but, with the help of a beard and the costume department (who excel themselves throughout) as well as his own bursting intensity, he is suitably energetic and volatile, and manages to convince you, for much of the time, that you are indeed seeing the man, or as many aspects of him as humanly possible. I don`t believe there`s an actor alive who could embody the whole of Dickens: he was an unexplainable one-off!
The plainly pretty Felicity Jones is marvellous as his alleged lover Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, and Joanna Scanlon is perfect as his homely, forlorn, neglected but nonetheless tough-minded wife Catherine. Her pent-up tears, when they come, are heart-rending.
Perdita Weeks (radiant and perky) and Amanda Hale (warm and knowing) are excellent as Ellen`s amiable sisters, while Kristin Scott Thomas, in an uncharacteristically low-key role, is equally effective, and quietly touching, as their wisely compassionate actress mother.
With Tom Hollander well-cast as Wilkie Collins, the always incisive Michelle Fairley as the latter`s live-in lover (would we had seen more of her; her character is left teasingly underdeveloped by screenwriter Abi Morgan), and veteran Irish actor John Cavanagh working wonders as a friendly local priest in whom Ellen confides, this is a beautifully crafted, photographed and acted film, which manages the considerable feat of not having `period drama` written all over it.
One thing I loved was the sparing use of music - in fact very little is heard. Fiennes makes use of natural sounds as much as possible. He also has a nicely moody eye for interiors and lighting, using space evocatively. He is also obviously - as indeed he should be - a superb director of his fellow actors.
The famous train crash, which so shook Dickens, making him nervous of rail travel in his remaining years, plays slightly fast and loose with the known facts, but this is an imaginative reconstruction of events in the later life of Dickens, not a documentary.
The few `love scenes`, when they eventually occur, are ineffably gentle, hesitant and subtly erotic, the first kiss barely a kiss at all...
There`s an excrutiatingly telling scene on (I think) Hampstead Heath, where Charles and Nelly are out walking, when who should they run into but his son Charlie. Their attempts to cover their embarrassment are almost farcically embarrassing.
But there are many memorable moments and scenes, and it`s definitely a film to see more than once.
I wanted to give this five stars, but little is perfect in this life, so let`s say nine out of ten, and an extra star in spirit!

Highly recommended.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Ellen Lawless Ternan... that is my secret", 26 Jan 2014
By 
Paul Allaer (Cincinnati) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
"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 film ie is a tour de force for Ralph Fiennes who in addition to starring also directed this movie, 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 is likely to 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 film 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 film at the Regal South Beach in Miami, and even though I saw it at a weekday matinee screening, the screening was quite well attended (leaning heavily towards women, I might add). It may be that 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 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 17 July 2014
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
As a keen Dickens fan and also a fan of Claire Tomalin's biographies on which this is based, I expected to love this. I didn't.

Hard to put a finger on why except that it seemed dull and the characters were not well developed. Dickens wife, in particular, was portrayed in a very bad light.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars As cold as yesterday's mashed potatoes, 26 Oct 2014
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Unfortunately I couldn't warm to this period romantic drama about Charles Dickens affair with a much younger woman. This is a fairly vapid film which failed to engage me at all. Ralph Fiennes does a good job playing the celebrated Victorian author ,but I didn't think there was much on screen chemistry between him and the passionless,dreary Felicity Jones, which therefore rendered the whole romantic relationship rather unconvincing. The film also has a disjointed feel to it with much of it consisting of flashbacks and reminisceses. Rather than being an uplifting celebration of a joyful inter generational romance , "The Invisible Woman" was a fairly low key,chaste and downbeat film that won't live long in the memory.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Very disappointing choice, 13 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Invisible Woman (DVD)
A very disappointing choice - not due to the acting, direction, and filming, but due to the constant changes required on the volume control. Very similar to the BBC's "Jamaica Inn" broadcast not so long ago. Completely ruined the film for us
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3.0 out of 5 stars What A Dickens!, 28 Sep 2014
By 
Dr. John Bromilow (Okehampton, Devon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
I watched 'Gunfight at the Corral' recently and, although I enjoyed the film, I was struck by there being no attempt whatsoever to make the principal actors resembles the real life characters they portrayed: Burt Lancaster (as Wyatt Earp) doesn't even support a joke shop moustache.
Not so in the film under discussion: the way Ralph Fiennes so closely resembles the real Charles Dickens is very impressive indeed and this raises the film from mere mediocrity to something better. The images are quite beautiful and the acting first rate so for these positive aspects alone this film is certainly worth watching. However it consists of a series of vignettes with no real beginning, middle or end; or, perhaps more accurately, no bits in between so that much remains unexplained.
Dickens is expertly portrayed as a flawed character: a party animal and exhibitionist but yet with a social conscience which he actually acts on. However he shows no conscience at all in his behaviour towards his wife (expertly portrayed by Joanna Scanlan) when he begins his love affair with the beautiful Nelly (Felicity Jones).
However, we must never just a book by its author.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Art of Concealment, 15 Feb 2014
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Worth watching, this film is fairly true to Claire Tomalin’s respected biography of Nellie Tiernan, the eighteen-year-old from a talented but hard up acting family, who caught the eye of Dickens at the height of his fame in his mid-forties. Perhaps inevitably, the film loses an element of subtlety in making explicit what Tomalin only surmises, such as the fact that Nellie miscarried a child by Dickens.

Ralph Fiennes conveys a strong sense of Dickens’ charisma, his hyperactivity, and callous treatment of his wife once he became obsessed with Nellie. Felicity Jones portrays well the qualities that captivated Dickens: not just her beauty and youthful enjoyment of life, but a sensitive and reflective intellect that made her a real companion, able to discuss his work with him. One of the most poignant parts of the film is where we see how she is knowingly trapped like a fly in amber, a kept woman in an overlarge house from which a view of Windsor Castle ‘seems to float’ as in a dream. She has to become visible to safeguard the great man’s reputation.

It does not add to the tale of the relationship to sandwich it in lengthy flashbacks between scenes of Nellie in later life as the wife of a schoolmaster in 1880s Margate, haunted by memories of Dickens. Part of the problem is that she looks too young (she was in her forties by then). However, I was interested to discover that in 1876, six years after the death of Dickens, she married at the age of thirty-seven a man twelve years her junior, passing herself off as twenty-three i.e. she must have looked youthful for her age.

I was surprised that the film does not make clear the thirteen year duration of her relationship with Dickens, until his death. More could have been made of her role as a possible inspiration for some of his later heroines, not just Estella in Great Expectations. The greatest missed opportunity seemed to me the omission of Dickens’ death: according to Tomalin, he became ill at Tiernan’s house and, to avoid a scandal, had to be put in a cab to be taken to his home, where he died in the presence of his family, as convention demanded.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful film, 23 July 2014
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This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
I simply don't understand some of the reviews for this film. What did people expect from the subject matter? Maybe some viewers weren't as familiar with the historical background as they might have been. Nelly Ternan's biography by Claire Tomalin http://goo.gl/Hi2jbO
It is beautiful in every way - in the acting, direction, cinematography...
All the cast are excellent in my view, and no-one is miscast. But Felicity Jones in particular gives a very fine and moving performance as Ellen Ternan at the two stages of her life.
And contrary to the views of some others, having already watched it twice (once alone and once with my wife) I shall certainly watch it again
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great expectations - mostly fulfilled, 25 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] (DVD)
Though slow at times I found this a interesting insight into Dickens life. I cannot claim to be as knowledgeable about him as most (particularly other reviewers) but as such much of the story was new to me and i think i enjoyed it for that reason.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sympathy for Mrs.Dickens!, 25 July 2014
Looks so authentic that I'm convinced Victorians had hd technology! Fascinating story, well done.
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The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014]
The Invisible Woman [DVD] [2014] by Ralph Fiennes (DVD - 2014)
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