Actors: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
Subtitles: English, French
Dubbed: Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 2
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Run Time: 111 minutes
For a film about social impropriety, The Invisible Woman is incredibly tasteful in its approach. Despite its R-rating, the physical relationship between Charles Dickens and his much younger mistress takes backseat to the emotional toll of the secret liaison. Rather than reveling in gossip, as the film’s lovers were concerned that the Victorian society they existed in would have, director Ralph Fiennes has a delicate touch in the representation of sordid affairs. Unfortunately, much of the film then remains quite singular in the showing of the secrecy’s emotional impact. While fantastic for performances, The Invisible Woman provides only slight variations on the same note for its 111-minute running time.
Though Charles Dickens (Fiennes) is clearly at the center of the storyline, this is actually much more the story of Nelly (Felicity Jones). We first join Nelly in marriage many years after her relationship with Dickens, a piece of her past which still remains hidden from everyone including her husband. Through flashbacks we are given screenwriter Abi Morgan’s details of the pair’s first meeting in the theater and their slowly built love affair which followed. This relationship did not come without cost, devastating the marriage Dickens was in upon their meeting as well as Nelly’s ability for happiness in the years that followed.
Jones does a magnificent job carrying the film with often little no more than a look of distress to convey the emotional strain of the tenuous relationship she shared with a man in a life of celebrity, but watching a woman’s discomfort is not quite enough to tent pole an entire film. The attention to detail is fantastic in terms of costuming and various set design, but this all feels like dressing to hide an oversimplified storyline in the screenplay. Very little actually happens to shift the direction or focus of the film, making it feel like a long train ride with much of the same scenery along the way. It never stops from being excellent in its assets, but also offers few surprises to make the last fifteen minutes stand out from the first.
The Blu-ray release includes a commentary track with Fiennes and Jones, as well as additional interviews in the remaining three features. These include interviews and red carpet footage from the Toronto Premiere and a SAG Foundation conversation with Fiennes and Jones.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6/10