Nelly Ternan: You men, you live your lives while it is we who have to wait. You see a freedom which I do not see.
I am by no means an expert on the subject of Charles Dickens. In fact, and I’m embarrassed to say this, I have never even read a word he has written. With no prior knowledge of the man, his work or his private life, other than his actual existence, it is easy to read Ralph Fiennes’ second directorial effort, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, which chronicles Dickens’ long standing affair with actress, Nelly Ternan, as an introspective exploration of adultery, fame, gender and class restrictions in the 19th century. It is also a much stronger film than Fiennes’ first, CORIOLANUS.
First time out, I found Fiennes was trying far too hard to be dynamic and differentiate himself from other actors turned directors. He was ambitious but overly so and he has toned down his scope with THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, which allows him to get closer to his characters and the story. He stars as Dickens himself and does a fantastic job as a man who purports to be very open minded but really only cares about his own needs. It is Felicity Jones who steals the show though as Ternan. Jones has been struggling to break out in a number of projects that ultimately fizzled out before audiences were truly able to take note of her. As the title character here, she demonstrates a great ability to balance internal struggle with exterior courtesy. Her striking beauty is only surpassed by her undeniable talent. After this film, I can’t imagine she will be invisible for very much longer.