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Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in this opulent period drama about the great novelist’s passionate, years-long secret affair with the young actress Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones; Like Crazy).
Actress Nelly Ternan was performing in
London's Haymarket Theatre when she
was first spotted by Charles Dickens, who
subsequently cast her in a production of The
Frozen Deep. The year was 1857. Dickens
was forty-five and had been married some
twenty years. Ternan was seventeen. The
two began an affair, which was kept a secret
from the general public for the duration of
their lives. Theirs has since become one of
the great love stories in literary history, as
alluring for the speculation it inspires as for
the details on record as fact.
Based on Claire Tomalin's biography
of Ternan, scripted by Abi Morgan, (The
Iron Lady, Shame), and directed by the
great English actor Ralph Fiennes — whose
directorial debut, Coriolanus, screened at
the Festival in 2011 — The Invisible Woman
is a rapturous chronicle of Ternan and
Dickens's relationship, which prompted the
end of Dickens's marriage, survived a train
crash, inspired characters and scenarios in
some of the author's most beloved novels,
and continued until his death in 1870.
Felicity Jones's performance as Ternan
brims with passion and intelligence — the
latter quality being one of the things that
drew Dickens to Ternan in the first place.
Dickens himself is embodied by Fiennes
as a complicated artist torn between his
desires and ideals and his need to uphold
tradition and avoid scandal. Enveloped
in opulent period detail, The Invisible
Woman brings us closer to this giant of
nineteenth-century prose — and to the
woman who sustained his lust for life
in his final years.
- Ralph Fiennes
- Ralph Fiennes was born in Ipswich and
trained at London's Royal Academy
of Dramatic Art. His film credits as
an actor include Quiz Show (94),
Spider (02), The Constant Gardener
(05), and In Bruges (08), as well as
Schindler's List (93) and The English
Patient (96), both of which earned
him Academy Award nominations.
His films as director are Coriolanus
(11), which screened at the Festival,
and The Invisible Woman (13).