Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this opulent period drama about the great novelist’s passionate, years-long secret affair with the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones; Like Crazy).
The Invisible Woman
Actress Nelly Ternan was performing in London's Haymarket Theatre when she was first spotted by Charles Dickens, who subsequently cast her in a production of The Frozen Deep. The year was 1857. Dickens was forty-five and had been married some twenty years. Ternan was seventeen. The two began an affair, which was kept a secret from the general public for the duration of their lives. Theirs has since become one of the great love stories in literary history, as alluring for the speculation it inspires as for the details on record as fact.
Based on Claire Tomalin's biography of Ternan, scripted by Abi Morgan, (The Iron Lady, Shame), and directed by the great English actor Ralph Fiennes — whose directorial debut, Coriolanus, screened at the Festival in 2011 — The Invisible Woman is a rapturous chronicle of Ternan and Dickens's relationship, which prompted the end of Dickens's marriage, survived a train crash, inspired characters and scenarios in some of the author's most beloved novels, and continued until his death in 1870.
Felicity Jones's performance as Ternan
brims with passion and intelligence — the
latter quality being one of the things that
drew Dickens to Ternan in the first place.
Dickens himself is embodied by Fiennes
as a complicated artist torn between his
desires and ideals and his need to uphold
tradition and avoid scandal. Enveloped
in opulent period detail, The Invisible
Woman brings us closer to this giant of
nineteenth-century prose — and to the
woman who sustained his lust for life
in his final years.