The Invisible Woman
What parents need to know
Positive role models
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Invisible Woman tells the story of Charles Dickens and his love affair with a woman he was forced to keep secret. There's a disturbing shot of a dead bloody baby following a miscarriage, plus a train crash and a bloody head wound. Two sex scenes are shown, but are mainly suggested by moaning and heavy breathing rather than any nudity or sexual images. A woman is briefly seen naked from behind, and there's a scene in an alleyway with prostitutes who say "a shilling a blow." Unfortunately, even teens who are interested in Dickens will probably get very little out of this superbly designed, but tepid movie.
What's the story?
In the mid-1850s, Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and his writing partner Wilkie Collins (Tom Hollander) are staging their play The Frozen Deep. A young actress, Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) is introduced to Dickens. She's a fan, has read all his books, and can discuss them intelligently. They become enchanted with one another, even though Dickens is married. Over a period of time, Dickens makes his feelings known and separates from his wife, and Nelly becomes pregnant, but he still can't make his love or relationship for Nelly public. Add this to the fact that Dickens is at least 25 years older, and is at least half devoted to his adoring public. How can such a relationship last?
Is it any good?
For THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, actor Ralph Fiennes steps behind the camera for the second time after his clever, powerful Coriolanus, but this time the results are a bit more tepid. Working from a book by Claire Tomalin, Fiennes seems intent on preserving factual details, but the resulting story probably could have used some embellishment. The relationship isn't terribly steamy or illicit or passionate. Dickens doesn't seem to view Nelly as his muse, and he seems perfectly able to live -- and write -- without her.
Characters speak to one another in hushed whispers as if a great deal is at stake, but the movie never makes the motivations behind this believable or clear. Some details that seem important, such as Nelly's pregnancy, are rushed, and the characters merely look pained by the whole situation, rather than tormented or heartbroken. However, the film's design and direction and the performances are all impeccable. It's a first-class production, merely passionless.
Families can talk about...
- Families can talk about relationships and marriage. How have the rules and traditions of marriage changed since the time depicted in this movie? How would this movie's story have been different if it happened today?
- The movie contains some disturbing scenes of violence. Were these scenes necessary? How did they affect the overall movie?
- How much did you know about Charles Dickens going in? What did you learn? Does the movie make you want to read more about him? Or read his books?