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The Invisible Woman - Film Review

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by Helen Belli (subscribe)
I am now living in Kariong on the Central Coast
Published May 19th 2014
'I walk at quite a pace' says Nelly to her pastor, who asks if he might join her as she takes her daily walk along the beach. This is in contrast to the pace of this slow, slow film. 'The last Rose of Summer' is played many times during the film. A better choice to match the mood would have been the third movement of Beethoven's Opus 132. It is considered by many to be the slowest music ever written. The action on a few occasions was so slow it was easy to think the CD had failed.


After much research Claire Tomalin discovered the until now secret private life of celebrated author Charles Dickens. Ralph Fiennes directs and stars with Felicity Jones as Nelly, his geriatric folly at the age of 45 to her 18. Nothing new. This is Victorian England where gender inequality is alive and well. Dickens is determined to keep the reputation of his mistress secret and away from the public gaze. He wrote a letter to The Times, denying any involvement with her and saying he had an amicable separation from his wife of 22 years. No matter that he had a mouse for a wife and 10 children, Nelly becomes his muse for many of his novels.


The costumes and background are true to the period and for the most part are a little drab, except for Dickens who is always immaculately dressed. Nelly's family belonged to the gentile poor who chose a life in the theatre, which was poorly paid. When the mother first learns of her daughter's affair she asks Dickens not to put her star struck daughter on a back street, but later encourages the union when she realises Nelly is never going to be an actress of quality and was only getting parts because Dickens was asking favours on her behalf.

If for you are interested to discover what happens to Nelly after Dickens death, you have a reason to see this film. No law was broken, but perhaps fair play on the part of Dickens may be an issue. In any event you will witness fine acting.

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