BATD ON Jan 23, 2014 AT 10:20 am

by Annie Vischer

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman, directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also takes on the lead role, is based upon Claire Tomalin’s book of the same name, and tells the story of the latter years of Charles Dickens’ life as he finds himself drawn to a young Ellen Terman, played by Felicity Jones. The real life love story began between Dickens and Terman when she was just 18 and present when Dickens and Wilkie Collins, played by Tom Hollander, were setting about hiring professional actors for one of their plays. Terman’s attraction to the storyteller is evident from the start and Jones plays her naive enchantment to perfection. The mutual infatuation continues as the pair grow closer, torn between morals and their desires.

It’s a fascinating story told beautifully by Abi Morgan, who says we should all read the book, as there is so much more of the story she couldn’t tell in the film. When she is doing an adaptation she looks for the ‘dog whistle’ in the book that calls out to her. For her the interesting part was the complexity and suppression of their relationship. It was such an intense and intimate relationship, but was quite non-verbal, for a man so well known for his words. Dickens appears as a haunted, conflicted man who was very insular and yet desperation for the attention and fame that was bestowed upon him. It was said that at one time he was more famous than Queen Victoria, so this public indiscretion was huge news and is told so well in this film. Felicity Jones and Ralph Fiennes are brilliant in it, definitely one for literary fans.

Kristen Scott Thomas adds to the stellar cast as Ellen’s mother, watching her grow as she adapts to living her love affair in secret. 

The film benefits from a plot that, in being true, will shock audiences as they come to know about the tumultuous stages of Dickens romantic life. The contrast between the torn romantic lead in The Invisible Woman and the bearded author responsible for Victorian tales of hardship and misfortune is sure to make an impression. As such, much of the success of the film should be attributed to Tomalin as the original author, and Abi Morgan who adapted it for the big screen.

The Invisible Woman is due for release in the UK on 7th February 2014. You can catch earlier viewings at the BFI Film Festival on Thursday 17th and Saturday 19th October, for more information visit the Beauty And The Dirt Calendar here.

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