Recently released on Blu-ray, The Invisible Woman (111 minutes, Rated R) centers on the life of Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones), an 18-year-old woman who enters a love affair with a married Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes). Directed by Fiennes, the narrative is mainly told from Ternan’s point of view, as she starts off as a wide eyed teenager who’s smitten with the great author.
The film, based on , also deals with the woman’s new life after Dickens passing. Ellen would later change her name to Nelly and live an altogether separate life as a married woman and schoolteacher. Felicity Jones does nuanced work as “the invisible woman,” an independent minded spirit who finds herself caught in Dickens’ formidable shadow, even after his passing. Kristin Scott Thomas, who previously worked with Fiennes in The English Patient, co-stars as Ternan’s mother.
Although the narrative delves into Charles Dickens’ own conflicts in keeping a happy home while also continuing his passionate romance with his muse, it’s Ternan’s own path towards acceptance which serves as the heart of the story.
Special features on the Blu-ray include commentary from Fiennes and Jones, Red Carpet coverage at the Toronto Film Festival and an informative SAG Q&A featuring Fiennes and Jones.
Towards the end of the SAG interview, Fiennes elaborated on the theme of The Invisible Woman.
“What moved me to make the film was (it was about) a woman seeking closure with a relationship, with a past love affair, a past intimacy,” said Fiennes. “That moved me – the idea that someone is haunted by something in their past, in this case a love affair which they still have not had reconciliation with. I want the audience to witness what that journey is for Nelly and reflect on it. I think, most people in their life, whether it’s with a lover or a sibling or a parent or a child, if you lose that person, it affects you and it’s not easy to articulate closure with it. So that, for me, is what the film is about.”