Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Invisible Woman [2013]

MPAA (R)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (3 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (G. Cheshire) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review

The Invisible Woman [2013] (directed by Ralph Fiennes, screenplay by Abi Morgan, based on the book by Clarie Tomalin [IMDb]) tells the story of the 13 year affair of the super-star 19th Century (Victorian-Era ...)  English author Charles Dickens (played in the film by Ralph Fiennes) and Ellen (Nelly) Ternan (played in the film by Felicity Jones).    Charles Dickens was 45 and Ellen (Nelly) Ternan was 18 (only a few months older than Dicken's oldest daughter) when they met.  Dickens left his wife Catherine (played in the film by Joanna Scanlan) and their many children over her.  And apparently though "Nelly" was the first person mentioned in Dicken's will after his death, he was able to keep her (largely) a secret until then.

Not that this was always easy... the two apparently had a child (in France ...) who died young (and was buried under a false last name ...) AND the two were traveling together on a train that derailed and Dickens had to pretend that the two weren't "traveling together" then... One gets the sense that a lot of women would probably like to throw things at the screen at points in the story like those.

But then, that's the story's point: No matter how one slices it, affairs are ugly.  One wishes that Catherine could have taken Dickens to the cleaners (as she would today) in a divorce proceeding and that even Ellen would have been able to say: "Sorry Charlie, but no matter what even my ma' (played in the film by Kristen Scott Thomas) may say (she arguably pressured her own daughter into the affair suggesting that Dickens would probably be very good to her) ... YOU'RE OLD ... and I'd much rather just hang out with / go to the beach occasionally with some of your older sons and daughters."   

Still, Charles Dickens did write a lot about the struggles of every day and lower class people of his time, and this story helps one get a window into how Dickens was able to know as much as he did about their lives and difficulties.  Sigh.

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