The Invisible Woman ★★★★
Not a smash hit at the cinema in 2013, but Ralph Fiennes’s second film as director (after 2010’s muscular Coriolanus) will feel cosily at home on TV and will provide respite for those suffering a stovepipe hat drought following the end of ITV’s Victoria. In 1857, Charles Dickens (Fiennes), just finishing Great Expectations, falls for young actress Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones). Courting her family as much as her, he claims the utmost propriety while insidiously freezing out his wife (the brilliant Joanna Scanlan) and forging an “arrangement” with his new mistress. Sparely adapted by Suffragette writer Abi Morgan from Claire Tomalin’s biography, this real-life society melodrama has the ring of historical verité and finds fetching locations around London and Kent. Fiennes invests Dickens with complexity of feeling and Jones finds new depth in her relationship with him. Railway enthusiasts have a treat in store, too.
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