The Invisible Woman: New York Film Festival 2013

In 2011, Ralph Fiennes channeled one of Shakespeare’s more challenging plays, the militaristic Coriolanus, into a dazzling directorial debut,...

New York Film Festival 2013: The Invisible Woman

In 2011, Ralph Fiennes channeled one of Shakespeare’s more challenging plays, the militaristic Coriolanus, into a dazzling directorial debut, perfectly balanced (like the star himself) between head-to-head intimacy and Hollywood panache. It’s gratifying to see Fiennes continue his bold trajectory with this brainy period piece, about a secret love affair between Charles Dickens and a theater ingenue. Initially, the film plays in the earthy, detailed manner of Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy, the 19th-century stagecraft coming to vivid life as Fiennes’s swanning Dickens, a celebrity in his own lifetime, flirts with Felicity Jones’s Nelly, a demure wanna-be actor. Yet the movie deepens as Nelly, destined for the gossip columns and peripheral attachment, becomes painfully aware of her own emotional fragility (Jones’s performance is devastating). Too bad the author himself was kind of a shit. Abi Morgan’s script has plenty of fatalistic Dickensian nods for the literary set, but still works as a clean piece of storytelling. A true festival highlight, this pulses with passion and purpose. Click for showtimes.—Joshua Rothkopf

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