REVIEW: The Invisible Woman

28 01 2014

The Invisible WomanLondon Film Festival

I generally try to avoid Victorian-era costume dramas as I usually find them quite stuffy and more attentive to the threads of the clothes than the threads of the story.  I didn’t need a reminder of their mediocrity, but Ralph Fiennes’ “The Invisible Woman” provided one for me anyways.  For nearly two hours, I endured the screen as a runway for the fashions of two-centuries past while a story played out in the background.

Abi Morgan, writer of films as brilliant as “Shame” and as dull as “The Iron Lady,” veers closer to the latter with her script for “The Invisible Woman.”  The movie tells the story of Charles Dickens’ mistress, Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones).  She’s supposedly the true love of his life and an inspiration to his work, but it’s hard to feel any affection for Ternan from Jones’ performance.

Jones is as inaccessible here as she was in the brutal ultra-indie “Like Crazy.”  Ternan shows little emotion throughout the film save a scene where she walks alone on an expansive beach.  Though her silence does reflect the Victorian social norms, it makes for a tough watch with such a distant protagonist.

Fiennes’ Dickens becomes infatuated with Ternan while she is little more than an attractive wallflower in the background of a theatrical production.  They carry out an extended affair in the shadows, as both must protect their reputations, him as a public figure and her as a lady.  I felt as if  “The Invisible Woman” was pulling me to pull for Ternan, but I ultimately sympathized most with Dickens’ matronly wife Catherine.

I guess maybe you ought to call me a Victorian with that set of morals pulling for the married couple over what might be classified as love.  If I admit it, can I stop watching movies set in that era though?  C+2stars

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