Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Invisible Woman

Year 8, Day 58 - 2/27/16 - Movie #2,259

BEFORE:  Felicity Jones carries over from "The Theory of Everything", and I'm sorry to say this is not a film about Susan Storm Richards, the female member of Marvel's Fantastic Four - just like neither film titled "The Thing" from last October was about Ben Grimm.  I will get to that recent "Fantastic Four" film, by the way, but not just yet.  Maybe around Comic-Con time in July.  

Here's the TCM "31 Days of Oscar" for tomorrow, February 28:

Geraldine Fitzgerald carries over from "Rachel, Rachel" to:
"Watch on the Rhine" with Kurt Katch carrying over to:
"The Seventh Cross" with Hume Cronyn carrying over to:
"Sunrise at Campobello" with David White carrying over to:
"The Apartment" with Fred MacMurray carrying over to: 
"Double Indemnity" with Jean Heather carrying over to:
"Going My Way" with Bing Crosby carrying over to:
"Blue Skies" with Fred Astaire carrying over to: 
"Swing Time" with Victor Moore carrying over to: 
"Gold Diggers of 1937" with Joan Blondell carrying over to:
"The Public Enemy" with Jean Harlow carrying over to:
"Libeled Lady" with William Powell carrying over to:
"One Way Passage"

Thanks to the project, I've seen three of these: "The Apartment", "Double Indemnity" and "The Public Enemy".  So I'm up to 101 films seen, 218 unseen, with 7 on the list. 

THE PLOT:  At the height of his career, Charles Dickens meets a younger woman who becomes his secret lover until his death.

AFTER:  Well, I dealt with Jane Austen and Leo Tolstoy already this month, why not Dickens?  OK, so it's not a work BY Dickens, it's about him, but whatever.  He was like the rock-star author of his time, so why should I be surprised to learn he had a mistress?   He was a famous person, so he could do whatever he wanted, right?  And now it's 150 years later, and it doesn't really matter at all.  

I think that's the problem here, nothing was really done to make this relationship stand out, it was just two people who connected on an intellectual and emotional level, and then decided to make a go of it.  That just seems like such a normal, rational decision, even if he was married.  I won't go so far as to say the affair is Mrs. Dickens' fault, because this film makes it seem like she didn't even try to connect with her own husband, so that's clearly where the logic is pointing.  Sure, blame the victim.

The mother of Nelly, the young actress in question, is ultimately OK with the situation because Nelly's not that great of an actress - so at least if Dickens puts her up in a secret love-nest, she'll be financially taken care of.  Dickens' friend, novelist Wilkie Collins, is shown to have a similar set-up for his own mistress and daughter.  So I think we can conclude that Victorian London wasn't as nearly as prudish as most people believe. 

This is another film with a split time-line, we see Nelly in the later sequences, when she's married to a man named George and a preacher asks about her connection to Dickens, which causes her to take long walks on the beach.  Then there are the flashback sequences set during her time with Dickens, but there's just too much jumping back and forth between the two timelines.  They should have set up the later scenes as a framing device, jumped back to the past only ONCE and let the whole story proceed until Dickens' death, then jumped back to her telling the story to the preacher.  Nothing is really gained by excessive toggling between the timelines, we gain no insight on either set of events from the other.

So Nelly lives in her "Bleak House" and helps Dickens through the "Hard Times" but ultimately this movie did not live up to my "Great Expectations". 

Also starring Ralph Fiennes (last seen in "The Grand Budapest Hotel"), Kristin Scott Thomas (last heard in "Microcosmos"), John Kavanagh (last seen in "Circle of Friends"), Tom Hollander (last seen in "About Time"), Joanna Scanlan (last seen in "Girl with a Pearl Earring"), Michelle Fairley (last seen in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1"), Jonathan Harden, Tom Burke, Perdita Weeks (last seen in "The Prince and the Pauper"), Michael Marcus (also carrying over from "The Theory of Everything"), Amanda Hale, Richard McCabe (last seen in "Notting Hill"), Mark Dexter.

RATING: 4 out of 10 manuscripts

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