If you expect The Invisible Woman to enlighten you about its eponymous heroine, you might be disappointed.

Despite a fine performance by Felicity Jones as Ellen “Nelly” Ternan, the woman who spent thirteen years as the mistress of Charles Dickens, this biopic presents the facts and lets the real woman slip through its fingers.

Nelly exists in relation to the men in her life: Dickens, her husband, a Reverend who shares her passion for the great man’s work. Though the film’s 111 minutes are well-executed by Fiennes (on double-duty as director and Dickens), the Invisible Woman herself remains just that: invisible.

Beautifully shot and performed but lacking in clarity, The Invisible Woman is a series of snapshots rather than a coherent whole. A solid and enjoyable period drama to help wile away an afternoon; just don’t expect to know Nelly any better by the end.

Rating: 3/5


CAST: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander, Joanna Scanlan, Tom Burke, John Kavanagh

DIRECTOR: Ralph Fiennes

WRITER: Abi Morgan

SYNOPSIS: The untold story of married schoolteacher Nelly Ternan, who as an eighteen-year-old became the secret mistress of Charles Dickens.