I've never had to do a film review before, how thrilling! Well, to start with I loved this film, but it is not an easy story to watch. I'll start with the positive stuff.
|Kristin Scott Thomas as Mrs Ternan with Ralph Fiennes as Dickens,|
and Felicity Jones as Nelly and Perdita Weeks as Maria, her sister
|Michelle Fairley as Caroline Graves and Tom Hollander as Wilkie Collins|
I could tell you how marvellous this film is, and it is, but there is more to it than just a fabulous costume drama. For the likes of us, who like a nice bit of art, there are echoes of paintings within the films. The most moving has to be the birthday party, which I felt referenced Frith's Many Happy Returns and provided, for me a very interesting theme to the film. I felt that there was a stark contrast between the adult that people took Nelly to be and the child she actually was. Children occur and reoccur in the film - the Dickens' children and grandchildren, the lost baby, the little lion. Nelly is a child who is trapped in a woman's body. Possibly that is true of all the women because how much control do they have? They all are at the whim of Dickens who acts at powerlessness in a world where he is king.
I think I am meant to finish my review there and give you a star rating but you know me, I don't shut up easily. One of the reasons I loved this film so much is that it tapped into a very real fear I have, no doubt shared by others. There is a scene in the film where Dickens pulls the 'my wife doesn't understand me' line, adding that the young Miss Ternan understands him and his work perfectly. The 19 year old me would probably have completely bought that line and I would have swooned quicker than you can say 'David Copperfield'. The somewhat older me sees it for what it is.
The scene that started me crying was the birthday party. When Mrs Dickens arrives and delivers the present I sobbed for England because I am not 19 anymore, I am middle-aged, a bit grey and wrinkly, and found that scene not only sad but terrifying. The two scenes where Dickens see his wife naked and then his rather brutal, wooden response were so horrible. For me, it was a brilliant insight into my own fears that I was far more interesting when I was younger and prettier. I did say that this was not an easy film to watch and beyond the frocks and fabulous special effects of the railway incident, I found the contrast between Nelly and Catherine Dickens to be a sobering insight into women's fears.
I urge you all to see the film and don't blame me if you cry into your Maltesers.