Ralph Fiennes directed and stars in “The Invisible Woman.” The movie takes place while Charles Dickens is at the height of his career. He met a younger woman, Nelly Ternan, who became his secret lover until he died. Felicity Jones deserves recognition for her Oscar-worthy portrayal of the troubled Nelly. Joanna Scanlan also gives a powerhouse performance as Dickens’ tossed aside wife, Catherine Dickens.
Nelly Ternan’s mother is played by Kristin Scott Thomas. Tom Hollander does a fine job as Dickens’ good friend and co-writing colleague Wilkie Collins, and veteran actor John Kavanagh plays Reverend Benham, the one person Nelly can finally confide in.
The screenplay is by Abi Morgan and based on Claire Tomalin’s book, “The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens.”
In the story of Dickens and Nelly, the story for me was a story of Nelly and how this affair came to be, not their life together. In adapting any kind of biography, I thought this wasn’t going to be a full bio pic of Ellen Ternan or Charles Dickens. The story that I thought was the most dramatically interesting was the part that led Nelly to saying to Dickens, “Yes.” The choices and the situations she was confronted with.
I want the audience to watch Nelly's face and engage with what she might be engaging with, which is a massive thing—her life, her future, the theater, where she was an actress, so it’s all those things. That’s why I deliberately wanted the audience to watch her face and what’s going on."
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