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It’s a “Dickens” of a tale. The Invisible Woman is detailed version of a very secret affair

Posted on Friday, January 17, 2014 at 10:44 am


By Peter Covino

Arts & Entertainment Editor

If just the thought of turning the pages of Great Expectations or Oliver Twist sets your heart racing, have I got a movie for you.
The Invisible Woman certainly isn’t for everyone. If Iron Man 3 was your favorite film of 2013, you probably best stay away from this film which goes in infinite detail about Charles Dickens and his infidelity with a much younger woman as he approached his middle years.
I read a few of the compulsory Dickens’ books in high school and college and usually just couldn’t get my head in 19th century British literature. And I do not remember hardly any discussion about Dickens’ life. The Invisible Woman handles both chores quite nicely and will probably be part of class movie outing field trip as well as DVD viewing once the film arrives in that format.
Directed and starring Ralph Fiennes as Dickens featuring Felicity Jones as the object of his affection, a not yet 18-year-old girl named Nelly.
Told mostly in flashback, Ellen Ternan (“Nelly”) is a happily-married mother  and schoolteacher in 1880s England. But there is something dark deep inside of her that has been haunting her — her secret affair with Dickens that lasted the last 13 years of Dickens’ life.
If you want lots of action, The Invisible Woman is going to be pretty painful. As a director, Fiennes lingers over every detail. An upper middle class Londoner (though most of this is set elsewhere) from the 1870s, would feel very much at home watching the film. From the costuming to the proper behavior of Victorian England, it all seems right.
Of course, Victorian citizens would be shocked and outraged (they already suspected the much beloved Dickens was having an affair) to find out just who this woman was.
Directed obviously by a man, The Invisible Woman is, very much, a film that appeals to women. From Nelly herself and her mother (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) and sisters (actors all) to the poor suffering Catherine Dickens (Mrs. Dickens), it explores the various difficulties of womanhood during the time period.
Mrs. Ternan (Nelly’s mother) knows and backhandedly approves of her daughter’s affair, after all, it is Charles Dickens. Meanwhile Mrs. Dickens must suffer all of the indignities of being the cast-aside older woman, and it is more than a matter of age. Mrs. Dickens (Joanna Scanlan) has a whole brood of children with Charles, but she can never understand the man the way young Nelly does.
The Invisible Woman opens exclusively (Orlando area) at the Regal Winter Park theaters Friday.

Critic’s rating: B

The Invisible Woman is rated R
Brazilian films
Valencia College will hold its 7th Brazilian Film Festival from Feb. 13 through Feb. 21, with free showings of five Brazilian films.
The weeklong film festival is one of only two Brazilian film festivals in Florida.
Admission to the film series is free and open to the public. All films will be shown in Portuguese with English subtitles. Each showing will be held at 7 p.m., and will be preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m.
The films will be shown on Valencia’s West Campus, located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando, and at Valencia’s Osceola Campus, located at 1800 Denn John Lane in Kissimmee.
Launched in 2008 by Valencia professor Richard Sansone, who teaches Portuguese and English as a second language, the film festival is presented in partnership with the Central Florida Brazilian American Chamber of Commerce and the University of Florida Center for Latin American Studies.
The films in the series were selected by Sansone and renowned Brazilian filmmaker Elisa Tolomelli, who will moderate each film and hold a question-and-answer session with audience members following each film.
For more details, such as film trailers, please visit