The Invisible Woman Screen 12 articles

The Invisible Woman

2013

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  • ...Fiennes's film feels not so much rooted in the past as it is mired in conventions about how to portray that past. Fiennes shoots everything in a dull sepia-toned matte which both abets and mirrors the general flatness of the film's drama.

  • Handsome and intelligent, it’s nonetheless a tepid portrait of a relationship that would be unremarkable were the gentleman not Dickens.

  • Ternan is, sadly, a less engaging character than any of the “fallen women” in Dickens’ novels, and surely it didn’t have to be that way... By refusing to consider that Dickens and Ternan ever brought each other any happiness, the movie is more Victorian in its attitudes than even some Victorians were.

  • As director, Fiennes avoids the emotional detachment one expects from the genre, aiming instead for a hushed, at times discomforting sense of intimacy. Yet an air of complacency hangs over the project; its condemnation of Victorian sexism makes us congratulate ourselves for our more enlightened views.

  • While Coriolanus seemed designed to show us that Ralph Fiennes could direct as well as star in Shakespeare, The Invisible Woman scans as a cannier power play, a consistently underrated actor-director’s audition for high-toned costume dramas about major historical figures (Charles Dickens, here). As a director’s portfolio, it’s not so bad: certainly Fiennes proves himself more capable of this sort of middlebrow period recreation than fellow countryman Tom Hooper...

  • In the typical Victorian fashion, the ever-increasing eroticism between the couple must be sublimated into non-carnal outlets—double entendres, knowing glances, the subtlest touch. While the film’s sense of restraint is for the most part an asset, particularly with regards to Fiennes’s masterfully sober incarnation of Dickens, the overarching stiff upper lip stifles the chemistry between the two leads.

  • If The Invisible Woman is a tale of repression and abuse, it also somehow remains a bittersweet love story, sympathetic to all its characters and unfussy — even understated — in staging the horrors and humiliations that Ellen must endure.

  • Though Fiennes is hardly the first filmmaker to tap into the restrictive social codes and barbed double-speak of the Victorian era, he renders it all with an unusually sharp, unsparing touch that, at its best, recalls Terence Davies’ film version of “The House of Mirth.”

  • The movie deepens as Nelly, destined for the gossip columns and a peripheral attachment, becomes painfully aware of her own fragility (Jones’s performance is devastating). Too bad the author himself was kind of a shit. A romance about stolen liberties in a repressed moment, this pulses with passion and purpose.

  • More mood piece than melodrama, Ralph Fiennes' "The Invisible Woman" brings extraordinary delicacy and cinematic intelligence to the true story of a love affair that Charles Dickens kept secret from the time he met then 18-year-old Nelly Ternan in 1857 until his death in 1870. Told with a finely calibrated poetic obliqueness that draws the viewer into the relationship's gradual unfolding, the film represents a formidable achievement for Fiennes as both actor and director.

  • The Invisible Woman is a near perfect example of a costume drama that makes no concession to the Downton Abbey school of novelettish melodrama... Much of its power resides in its rhymes: the twinned theater productions; or the shots of Dickens and Nelly facing each other, together but apart. Nelly’s fate is rendered by a recurring motif of enclosing her within frames, mostly windows—a woman trapped by more than corsets.

  • His direction is precise and passionate. The compositions quietly speak volumes about the distance between Charles and Nelly (as well as their alternately joyous or despondent states), and Fiennes's assured edits and zooms express the material's roiling sentiments... Without a wasted gesture, The Invisible Woman situates itself so close to its protagonists that, despite the 19th century's decorous restraint, it proves a lush, pulsating work.

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