The Invisible Woman
The Invisible Woman certainly makes for entertaining viewing and is shot in appealingly nostalgic sepia tones. But as far as depth goes, it leaves quite a lot to be desired.
Felicity Jones gives a convincingly torn and well-executed performance as Nelly, a girl who at 18 fell into the clichéd role of the young, beautiful lover to a powerful man. She is seduced by his seeming complexity and intoxicatingly romanticised unavailability. Viewed through her eyes and decades after the affair itself, The Invisible Woman rings of trite nostalgia. Perhaps the saving feature of the film is the internal struggle Nelly faces, and still seems to feel as she looks back on her life. Her position as “the other woman” is something that she cannot quite justify despite her desperate desire for it to be understood.
Dickens, played by Ralph Fiennes (who also directs in his second venture to the other side of the lens) is portrayed in much the way that one would imagine Nelly saw him in the height of her infatuation. This doesn’t necessarily do Dickens himself many favours, but it certainly adds another dimension to Nelly. This view of a man torn by his forbidden desires and tied down by Victorian values gives her conflicted surrender to desire more credence, and the unexpected shifting power dynamic between the two gives the film a depth that is sorely needed.
The unfortunate, yet presumably deliberate, portrayal of his wife as fat, unattractive and a hindrance to his happiness seems an attempt to justify Dickens’ infidelity – but somehow the way Fiennes portrays this (both in front of the camera and behind it) gives the film a beauty that it doesn’t quite deserve. As a love story, it is overly defensive and a little too sentimental – but as a look at the flaws integral within the greatest and weakest among us, it certainly hits the spot.
The Invisible Woman is released in the UK on 7th February 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Invisible Woman here: