Film Review: The Invisible Woman

We have always known Ralph Fiennes to be a great actor.

Its one of those things we take for granted and so when he puts forward a typically consistent, multifaceted, award deserving performance, regardless of the character, "baddie or good guy" we are predictably blown away.

Be it Harry in In Bruges, Lord Voldemort, Christopher Marshall or M Gustave, he commits to each and every role.

So it must have been maybe a little disconcerting for his co actors in this film, for them to be dealing with a reincarnated Charles Dickens one moment and Ralph Fiennes, working also as the director of this film the next.

That is another thing that comes to you when watching The Invisible Woman, the direction in this is flawless. Move over Ben Affleck, you're not the only one who can do both acting and directing in one film and be brilliant at both.

The story of this film is also a shock to the system. Charles Dickens had an affair with a young actress much younger than himself, Ellen Ternen, known to her family as Nelly, and actually separated from his wife after all their years of marriage. This film is based on the biographical book by Claire Tomalin, something I will definitely be reading soon enough.

Nelly is portrayed with startling clarity by Felicity Jones. Those who grew up in the nineties might remember Ms Jones from portraying Ethel Hallow in the Worst Witch series and the follow up Weirdsister College.
She has done some more grown up projects since, Like Crazy, the remake of Brideshead Revisited, Breathe In, The Tempest, Hysteria, Page Eight, the Amazing Spiderman 2 and most recently, Jane Hawking in the Stephen Hawking biopic - The Theory of Everything.

Her performance in this film is beautifully haunting and it stays with you, long after viewing. Her portrayal, combined with that of Mr Fiennes', delivers an emotional sucker punch.
The rest of the cast add their considerable strength of various characters, Perdita Weeks, Amanda Hale, Kristin Scott Thomas as Nelly's two sisters and mother respectively. Joanna Scanlan as Catherine Dickens, the wife. Tom Hollander as friend, Wilkie Collins, John Kavanagh as Rev William Benham. Michelle Fairley pops up too, probably best known for portraying Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones.

Tom Burke comes up as Mr George Wharton Robinson, a bit of a mouthful and even though he has a few small scenes, he still makes his mark and you remember his character. True sign of a great one. Either that or I am seeing Athos with sideburns instead of a beard, but I like to think the former.

The editing helps keep the story moving at a good pace, films have been ruined before by poor editing, Smart People comes to mind, thankfully this one is perfectly done and you stay engrossed right through to the end credits.
The screenplay was written beautifully by Abi Morgan, who has won and been nominated for her writings for The Hour, The Iron Lady, Shame. Awards for this film should be forthcoming also.

The score for this film complements it perfectly, I was reminded very quickly of the one for Master and Commander and it seems that this composer, Ilan Eshkeri (who composed the music for Mr Fiennes directorial debut - Coriolanus) was maybe inspired by him, because its quite similar. A compliment, its a great score. And ties the film together in only a great one can.


  1. This quote comes from a film I haven't seen for some time, but its one that has stuck with me nonetheless.
    “Jacob Coote: Two things happened to me yesterday. The first was I received all this shit about voting for the first time, which I chucked in the bin, cos I reckon all politicians are a bunch of dickheads. And the other thing was my old man was watching a documentary about insects rooting on fig leaves, so I caught the end of the world news. And I saw this guy who was being chased by his own government, and I didn't understand anything about it except that he was wearing a Nick Cave t-shirt. And then I wondered how a guy my age, with my taste in music, had gotten himself into a situation where his own government was trying to have him shot, just because he had something to say. And I realised I'm lucky because in this country, I can rant and rave and call the Prime Minister a dickhead without the army coming in and shooting me, and stopping you all from listening. And I figured that in this country, we don't vote to keep the best party in - cos there's no such thing - but we vote to keep the worst party out. Because I don't want to end up being watched by some bloke at the other end of the world who thinks that this can't happen to him.”


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