The preview screening of Ralph Fiennes' second film The Invisible Woman was, without a shred of doubt, the most extraordinary cinematic experience I have ever partaken in. The film itself was a quiet, subtle masterpiece with beautiful nuances: from Dickens, the man himself, to the love story that bloomed so naturally (and realistically) to the intriguing portrayal of life as a writer. Ralph Fiennes is an actor distinguished by a long line of high-calibre performances. First establishing himself in the film industry as an actor willing and able to take on roles of any nature, he has now engaged in film making. The Invisible Woman is his second outing as a director and it proves to be a masterful feature; subtle, brilliant and entirely watchable. The thrill of being able to see a terrific film then meeting the man principally responsible for its creation was not one which went by unappreciated.
The Invisible Woman is a biographical film, based on the Claire Tomlin novel "The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens". It chronicles the infamous affair between a young actress, Nelly (Felicity Jones) and the British author, Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes).
I cannot quite describe the eloquence of Ralph Fiennes. This may be rather presumptuous of me to claim, but perhaps it is because a key role of the a director is to communicate. Unlike many other types of artists, directors must make known and understood his intentions in order to achieve his vision. Either way, as Ralph endeavoured to explain each feature of the film the audience's appreciation and respect of it did nothing but grow. Generic as it may sound, this experience was honestly a dream come true. Ralph Fiennes exceeded my expectations: he blew me away. He justified everything about his film. Everything from music, to the opening shots, to the sweeping views to the unusual pace of the narrative.
Perhaps it is because I was able to hear a first hand recount of the struggle behind the process. That is, behind the long, creative process behind the production that is The Invisible Woman. Perhaps it is due to this that I am able to call it what it really is: a true triumph.
One of the first topics of conversations that Ralph eluded to was the casting choice of the role of the protagonist, the intriguing, complex mistress Nelly. He described how he required an actress who was able to portray the distinctive difference in Nelly at both ages. He found this is in the riveting talent Felicity Jones. We saw her in the indie darling flick Like Crazy and the surprisingly humorous Chalet Girl. Her quiet performance in The Invisible Woman was nothing less than astounding. Towards the conclusion of the film, there are about 30 seconds of an extreme close-up, when her face simply opens up with pain. The execution was simply flawless, the control of her expression, the delivery of those few lines.
Ralph Fiennes went on also, to discuss the development of the central love story. He described how he worked particularly hard to steer clear of the clichés of romantic film - in his own words "that surge of music" that comes along when the audience is to expect some pivotal romantic cue. "Often life isn't like that. Often, love means ignoring them".
A particularly laudible aspect of the film is its use of music. Too often, films are flooded with unnecessary musical cues, almost as if instructing the audience of how a scene should make you feel. The Invisible Woman did no such thing. Instead, strong violin cords were struck only at pivotal points in the film. They were powerful yet did not seem simulated or forged.
Another particularly notable feature of the film I may have already mentioned is its naturalistic course of portrayal. Probably attributed to the sheer number of films that I have seen over the years, I can often predict the events that will happen later in the film. For example, a lingering shot on a certain person or a certain action implies significance. However, a dramatic, key event which occurred in the film truly took me by surprise. And I loved it. It has been a while since a film has shocked me so.
Ralph Fiennes directed a film which mesmerised me no end. He appealed to an audience with an artistic insight and I can honestly say that I walked away with a part of it, with every intention of keeping it.