The wife of Charles Dickens tells his mistress. “You will never know who he loves more: you or his audience,” in “The Invisible Woman”.

Over the last decade or so of his life Dickens, he was 45 and she was 18, had an affair with Nelly and when we first meet Nelly she is a married school teacher, her husband 12 years younger than she is and very little attention is paid to the age differences.

This takes place in the 1850s when men could have mistresses but not flaunt them in public. The men set them up in fairly luxurious apartments an don’t divorce their wives even when the women have children.

We are constantly going back and forth in time as we go along Nelly’s adventure with this famous man whom she has always admired and his writings. Nelly is from a theatrical family and while her mother doesn’t condone the affair she knows her daughter is not that good an actress and infers that she would be better taken care of with Dickens. We watch her confusion as Dickens writes a letter to a newspaper slapping the hands of the gossipers even though he has literally built a wall in his house between and his wife. She learns to accept what the wife had told her and when tragedy hits she grows up and goes on with her life.

This is an English love story so the pace is slower but it also takes time to show off the actors. Ralph Fiennes, who plays Dickens and directed the film, does a better job in the former than the latter. There are one too many dark scenes and shots where you only see a cheek or elbow though some of these shots do glide into better shots in a different place. There is a horse race scene where it starts from a completely silent shot of Nelly that leads to a full blown ending of the race with shouts, horses speeding by and music in the background which is very effective even though the music background track at times is annoying.

Using a script by Abi Morgan, based on a book by Claire Tomalin, the former, with the director, sorts of lets Felicity Jones, as Nelly, down. She is a beautiful woman who is given little time to shine and show what really attracted Dickens to her and is given one too many walks along the seaside!

Kristin Scott Thomas as Kelly’s mother, Perdia Weeks and Felicity Jones as her sisters, Joanna Scanlan as Mrs. Dickens, John Kavanagh as a Reverand who feels Kelly’s confusion, Tom Burke, the younger husband, Tom Hollander as Dickens’ friend, and as his doesn’t care what society thinks mistress, Michelle Fairley and the supporting cast give expected strong English performances.

For a love story it doesn’t affect the audience emotionally as much as listening to Fiennes read Dickens words which make you want to run out and read his books again.

Posted January 21, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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