Subscribers! Add a note to this movie and/or put it into one of your private movie lists.
Nelly, a happily-married mother and schoolteacher, is haunted by her past. Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Charles Dickens, with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity. Dickens -- famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success -- falls for Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre is a vital arena for Dickens -- a brilliant amateur actor -- a man more emotionally coherent on the page or on stage, than in life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens' passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and for Nelly a life of "invisibility."
Drama Romantic - This is a period romantic drama based on a true story about classic
author Charles Dickens. While for the most part one of those sedate
costume films aimed at older adults, the film has an R rating due to
sexual content, which makes the film inappropriate for kids.
Roger EbertFull Review Excellent 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.
USA TodayFull Review Excellent The Invisible Woman is a meticulously rendered, tasteful and moving period drama. Artfully directed by Ralph Fiennes, who also stars, it chronicles a love affair that lasted for the last dozen years of the life of Charles Dickens. Fans of the author will be particularly enraptured. An emotionally incisive story, this account of the little-known relationship between Dickens in middle age and a much younger woman, named Nelly Ternan, moves at a stately pace.
NY PostFull Review Above Average 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.
Note: The rating
above is our interpretation of what the critic would give this movie based on
their review. We are not affiliated with these critic's in any way.
Margate, England 1885, a woman strides across a deserted beach. Isolated against the sea and
sky she walks as if to forget, as if her life depends on it.
In a school hall a group of young boys and Reverend William Benham (John Kavanagh) are
waiting for her to return. They are rehearsing a production of a play called No Thoroughfare: A
Drama in Five Acts written by Dickens and Wilkie Collins. The woman is Nelly Wharton
Robinson (Felicity Jones), the wife of the school's headmaster George Wharton Robinson [TOM
BURKE]. For Nelly, the rehearsals are igniting memories of a lost life, one that is still haunting
Her distracted mood has caught the attention of the kindly Benham, a Dickens enthusiast. His
gentle questioning nudges her thoughts back to the past when her life was changed by meeting
Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes).
Nelly, then Ellen Ternan, is 18-years old and is performing with her mother, Mrs. Ternan
(Kristin Scott Thomas), and sister Maria (Perdita Weeks), in Dickens' adaptation of his friend
Wilkie Collins' (Tom Hollander) play, The Frozen Deep. With the eldest daughter Fanny
(Amanda Hale), the Ternans are a cultured, lively family of touring actresses. Dickens is
instantly drawn to them, particularly the young, beautiful and self-possessed Nelly.
Dickens is a man at the height of his fame. His work is read throughout the English-speaking
world, he reads it publicly to huge audiences, he campaigns tirelessly on behalf of the poor and
enjoys life as a literary star. But his marriage is faltering. Catherine Dickens (Joanna Scanlan)
has borne him 10 children but is now confined to the edge of his life, unappreciated and no
longer loved. She is no match for Dickens' forceful personality and he craves a woman who
appreciates him and his work.
Nelly becomes the intense focus of Dickens' desire and she finds that her growing affection for
him makes her emotionally and socially vulnerable. As Nelly and Dickens grow closer and the whispers of Victorian society become louder, the fears of those near to them intensify. Catherine
Dickens is afraid of abandonment and ridicule, her children are distraught, and Mrs. Ternan is
concerned for her daughter's reputation if the affair is revealed.
Nelly is introduced to Wilkie Collins' "hidden" mistress Caroline Graves (Michelle Fairley) and
sees that Dickens may be suggesting a similar role for her. She angrily confronts him but he is
insistent and she cannot ignore his passionate declarations. But Dickens will never marry her nor
can his adoring public ever know that he has erred. When Dickens and Nelly are involved in a
tragic accident in which she is injured, Nelly is confronted with Dickens' determination to keep
her a secret. She finds herself accepting the painful reality of sharing Dickens with the world, as
she begins a life as an "invisible woman."
The older Nelly finally speaks to Reverend Benham of what her relationship with Dickens has
cost her and what she now understands.