The Invisible Woman Blu-ray Review

What do you do if you’re stuck in a marriage that is stalled intellectually? If you’re the famed British author Charles Dickens (Fiennes) you take up with a young actress, with the help of her mother (Kristin Scott Thomas), and hope nobody finds out. And when they do? Ummmm…..

Ralph Fiennes in The Invisible Woman

Skillfully acted and well paced, THE INVISIBLE WOMAN is a film produced in the old Merchant/Ivory way. Great cast, beautiful production design and a story that runs just a little too long. The story takes place in the 1850s, where Dickens is working on one of his greatest books, “Great Expectations.” A chance meeting with Nelly Ternan (Jones) strikes him like a lightning bolt. When he learns she is heading off on a journey he tells his wife he must take a two-day “research” trip. Of course, even in the 19th century, if you were anyone of note you were easily recognized. Any public event that Dickens attends soon finds him swarmed by well wishers and fans. Soon rumors of troubles in his marriage hit the public and he addresses them in a very odd way: by confirming them (somewhat) in a lengthy letter to the editor of the London Times! Of course this humiliates Mrs. Dickens (Joanna Scanlan) even more. Even Nelly doesn’t understand the effect she holds on Charles or the emotions he is going through. “He is a good man, trying to be a good man,” a friend of Dickens tells her. Well, kind of.

Ralph Fiennes in The Invisible Woman

The performances here are outstanding. Fiennes, as is to be expected, leads a film that could be a clinic on period performances. His Dickens is rooted to the English way of living and, though not apparent to others around him, his dalliances with Nelly do have a profound effect on him. Jones more than holds her own against him, managing to display a wide variety of emotions at a moment’s notice. Scanlan is heartbreaking as the wife who doesn’t understand where or how she lost her husband. Nor, more importantly, why.

Ralph Fiennes in The Invisible Woman

In his second feature film directing assignment, Fiennes stages the film almost as if it were a smoothly flowing play, continuing on with no intermission. He shows a fine eye for period details (I really enjoyed a scene where Dickens and Nelly decide to go for a walk and, rather than stroll down cement sidewalks, they walk through a path worn down in a field, often passing others doing the same thing. Also, like a play, the film does run a little long, though I would be at a loss as to how to speed up the rhythm that Fiennes has set. On the technical side, the film also stands out. Lush cinematography captures the English countryside. The musical score helps keep the tone of the film consistent and, as mentioned above, the period look in costume and sets is spot on. And a tip of the cap to the makeup department – they have managed to turn Fiennes into an almost spitting image of Charles Dickens. One of those transformations you hope is remembered come Oscar time.


Video: The film is lushly presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is flawless and the images, particularly those of the English countryside, are striking.

Audio: Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the audio here is crisp and clear. As you can imagine, this is a film with a lot of dialogue and nothing else and the mix is very well done.

Commentary with Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones: A fun commentary by two actors who clearly enjoy being around each other. Fiennes does double duty explaining some of his directing choices.

SAG Foundation Conversations with Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones (26:32): A Q&A with the two stars after a screening for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Film Festival (16:32): The stars and filmmakers make an appearance and are highlighted from the podium at the World Premiere of the film.

Toronto International Film Festival Press Conference (20:59): Fiennes and Jones answer questions after the screeing at the Festival.


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