Review: Ralph Fiennes Returns to Director’s Chair with The Invisible Woman

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Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan in The Invisible Woman. (David Appleby/Sony Pictures Classics)

Ralph Fiennes as Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan in The Invisible Woman. (David Appleby/Sony Pictures Classics)

The Invisible Woman, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes, is based on the life of legendary author Charles Dickens.

The English actor shows us that he’s taken a liking to that aspect of cinema. His directorial debut, Coriolanus, was a box-office flop and received poor reviews.

However, Fiennes surprises us with The Invisible Woman, and brings us a well-produced and imagined story which may very well pave the way for his directorial career.

The Invisible Woman is a bio-epic based on the last years of Dickens’ life, and reveals dark times that have not been known about until now.

Dickens penned several novels that have become very successful films, such as A Christmas Carol and Great Expectations, but ironically, it is his own life that will be depicted on the big screen.

The film, based on Claire Tomalin’s novel by the same name, narrates the last years of Dickens’ life, and his tumultuous romance with Ellen Tarnen, a young actress of his time. It began in 1857, when he was 45 and she was 18 years old. It ends in 1870, at the time of his death. It’s important to note that this romance was always kept a secret, which alludes to the film’s title.

Ralph Fiennes stars as Dickens, and the ever-delightful Felicity Jones stars as Ellen Tarnen.

For those of you who are fans of period films, this proves to be an excellent option. It features phenomenal acting, extraordinary cinematography and costume design. Something to keep in mind for those of you who are NOT fans of period pieces, is that this film is undeniably romantic, and does not use fast-paced or intense scenes, which might allow for it to be misinterpreted as ‘slow’ or ‘boring’ and thus place Fiennes’ directorial prowess in question.

However, we must not let this steer away from the achievements of the film. While it does not feature any transcending tragedies, it does paint a beautiful story about love, and is flawlessly narrated and visually striking.

This film, out on Christmas Day, is well worth considering.


The Invisible Woman
Sony Pictures Classics
Opens on Wednesday in Los Angeles (Laemmle’s Royal located at 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., LA 90025)

4 stars

Films are rated on a scale of 5 stars (must-see), 4 stars (exceptional), 3 stars (solid), 2 stars (average) and 1 star (unworthy).

Ramon Aviles is a Staff Reporter for Living Out Loud - LA, covering lifestyle and entertainment.
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