The Invisible Woman (Blu-ray)

April 25, 2014 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Maybe I’m a bit bias, but when it comes to films that pertain to the UK, I tend to tune out.  Nothing against the Brits, but there are clearly some cultural differences between them and those of us in the States.  I’ll just say that both The Simpson’s and Family Guy seem to have the pulse of that, so if you’re fans of either one of those shows, then you’ll know what I’m referring to.  Still, it’s hard to ignore the works of some of their great writers and it’s really hard to top Charles Dickens.  Probably most widely known for A Christmas Carol, his novels influenced countless generations. And taking all of that into consideration, I decided to request a copy of the movie.  That and I’m a fan of Ralph Fiennes (who directed the film), though I’m sure that I’ll forever identify him with the role of Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter novels/movies. At any rate, Fiennes is now Dickens, so let’s take a look at the man behind the man…

Based on Claire Tomalin’s biography and Abi Morgan’s screenplay, The Invisible Woman isn’t what you’re thinking of (one of the Fantastic Four). Rather this is the account of Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and his mistress, Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) and the life, both public and private, that they faced.  Dickens’ wife Catherine (Joanna Scanlan) had aged due to multiple pregnancies and, as such, he had grown tired of her. Having cast Nelly in one of this plays, the two start an affair that would last until Dickens’ death in 1870.  The film chronicles the affair and the lives of the two, all the while seeing how it affects everyone and everything around them.  Kristen Scott Thomas reunites with her English Patient co-star and plays Nelly’s mother.

Being totally honest here, The Invisible Woman does tend to drag in a few places. Then again I knew that when I popped the disc in the player.  This is Ralph Fiennes’ second time behind the chair, his first being an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus in 2011 and he’s clearly as adept as a Director as he is an actor.  This isn’t an slam bang action movie and I don’t think anyone would expect it to be. It’s carefully written, directed and acted and fans of the period and more to the point, Dickens, will love the film.  Probably the star of the film is Felicity Jones who does more acting with her facial features and eyes than actual spoken dialogue. She’s got a career in front of her, for sure. Fans of Great Expectations, Downton Abbey and Pride and Prejudice will certainly enjoy the film, but it might put others to sleep.

Video: How’s it look?

An Academy Award nominee for Costume Design (it lost to The Great Gatsby), The Invisible Woman looks positively stunning. The wide 2.40:1 AVC HD image reeks of anything and everything high definition and though a bit drab in some places, they’re few and far between. The detail is stunning, showcasing the amazing and alluring costume design. The overall palette of the movie seems more earth-toned, but a few outdoor shots have some sun-drenched scenes that show that England isn’t always dull and drab.  Contrast is remarkably strong and adds to an amazing picture – kudos to Sony with this one.

Audio: How’s it sound?

If ever a movie contained a subdued soundtrack, it’s got to be this one.  While the DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is present, it doesn’t take charge, so to speak. It’s always there in the background adding a bit of refinement here and there, but it’s never fully “in your face.” Vocals are rich and full with no distortion in the least.  Surrounds are used, albeit sparingly, though they add a noticeable presence to a few key scenes in the movie.  This won’t (and didn’t) win any awards for sound, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Well done.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sony has offered up a decent little disc here with a smattering of extras that fans will enjoy.

  • Audio Commentary – Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones combine for a rather informative track. There’s not a lot of interaction between the two, rather they just shoot it straight and tell of the shoot, the script and the subject matter.
  • On the Carpet at the Toronto Premiere – Fiennes speaks to a crowd at the Toronto premiere of the film and then fields a few questions.
  • SAG Foundation Conversations with Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones – More of a Q & A session moderated by Dave Karger, this was filmed in December 2013 and provides some insight on the film.
  • Toronto International Film Festival Press Conference – Essentially another Q & A session, this time moderated by Henri Behar, with Fiennes and Jones doing their best (and doing a fine job, too).
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DVD Copy

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