DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

The Invisible Woman: Blu-ray + DVD Review

The Invisible Woman (2013) movie poster The Invisible Woman

US Theatrical Release: December 25, 2013 / Running Time: 111 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Ralph Fiennes / Writers: Claire Tomalin (book); Abi Morgan (screenplay)

Cast: Ralph Fiennes (Charles Dickens), Felicity Jones (Ellen "Nelly" Lawless Ternan), Kristin Scott Thomas (Mrs. Francis Ternan), Tom Hollander (Wilkie Collins), Joanna Scanlan (Catherine Dickens), Tom Burke (Mr. George Wharton), Michelle Fairley (Caroline Graves), Amanda Hale (Fanny Ternan), Perdita Weeks (Maria Ternan), John Kavanagh (Rev. William Benham)

Buy The Invisible Woman from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD

Charles Dickens' writings have immortalized him and it is those works that color our enduring view of him. We know that he sympathized with the working class, had strong opinions about the Victorian England he called home, and possessed extraordinary gifts for creating indelible characters and long-view storytelling. Beyond all that, the prevailing image of Dickens as a person becomes foggy. The Invisible Woman does a bit to clear the fog.

Adapted from biographer Claire Tomalin's 1991 book of the same name by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady, Shame), this stately drama sheds light on the great novelist's extramarital affair with young Nelly Ternan.

In "The Invisible Woman", Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) becomes romantically involved with Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), a significantly younger and not so talented actress.

Opening in 1883 but unfolding primarily a quarter-century earlier, the film details the relationship between Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and Nelly (Felicity Jones), who catches his eye as a barely 18-year-old actress. By then, Dickens is widely revered. The adoring public hounds him and those attending his readings shower him with praise. Nelly numbers among his fans and has been directing stage adaptations of his works when she is called to perform in front of the author himself.

As an actress, Nelly is less than talented, but her beauty distinguishes her for Dickens, whose wife (Joanna Scanlan) is fat, ugly and emotionally distant. Employing that clear-cut recipe for justifiable straying, the movie brings the writer and his young admirer together for a romance they don't see eye to eye on. Nelly's mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) rules out marriage, but that doesn't prevent Nelly from becoming Dickens' mistress, over some reservations, or the mother of his illegitimate baby.

As if to elicit viewer sympathy, Dickens' wife (Joanna Scanlan) is overweight, unattractive, and emotionally distant. Nelly's mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) sees some value to her daughter's affair with Dickens.

The film puts Fiennes in the director's chair for just the second time, following his well-reviewed but largely unwatchable Shakespeare update Coriolanus.
Between Tomalin's source text and Morgan's script, Fiennes has far juicier material to work with this time. He doesn't try too hard to render it more accessible, though. His is a sleepy and slow period drama, nicely photographed but fairly traditional and never all that scintillating.

Like Fiennes' directorial debut, Invisible got a qualifying limited theatrical run at the end of the year from a studio well-acquainted with awards. And, just as on Coriolanus, that run didn't lead to audience discovery or the accolades for which a strategically-timed production typically aims. Invisible picked up a small handful of nominations, including three from British organizations. It did earn the title of Academy Award nominee, but just barely, landing one of the five slots of the Best Costume Design award ultimately won by The Great Gatsby.

It reaches home video on April 15th exclusively in the type of two-disc Blu-ray + DVD combo pack that many marginal Sony Pictures Classics releases get these days.

The Invisible Woman: Blu-ray + DVD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 5.1 DTS-HD MA (English, Portuguese), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Portuguese, Spanish)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled in English, Portuguese, Spanish
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Blue Keepcase with Side Snap


Sony's Blu-ray presentations are as consistently delightful as any studio's and Invisible Woman mostly lives up to the high standard. The 2.40:1 picture shows off the tasteful visuals with excellent detail (only slightly less than their best transfers) and vitality. The 5.1 DTS-HD master audio surprises with a few flaring crescendos that may have you lunging for your remote.

Director-star Ralph Fiennes and leading lady Felicity Jones talk about the film in an audio commentary, this Screen Actors Guild Foundation panel... ...and this Toronto International Film Festival press conference.


Identical on each disc, the bonus features begin with an audio commentary by Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones. The track is marked by quietude from the start, with a mix of lulls and mundane location and technical talk putting listeners to sleep quickly and definitively.
A few facts about bringing this story to the screen emerge, but it's not enough to warrant your time, with Fiennes admitting he's reluctant to reveal anything out of the ordinary.

The video extras (all presented in HD on Blu-ray) begin with the Screen Actors Guild Foundation's December 2013 conversation (26:33) with Fiennes and Jones. Fandango's Dave Karger asks the leads about the movie, the 10-week, £10 million shoot, before opening the floor to audience questions. Of the mildly interesting notes, the highlight is when Jones says Fiennes' Voldemort comes out when casting kids.

"On the Red Carpet at the Toronto Premiere" (16:32) actually collects in-theater remarks from Fiennes and Jones (producer Gabrielle Tana joins them but remains silent) inside the Toronto International Film Festival.

Also here is a Toronto International Film Festival press conference (20:59), in which Fiennes and Jones answer still more questions from a panel's moderator Henri Bethar and the journalists attending last September's TIFF. Certainly meeting your appetite for discussion relating to the film, they talk costumes, Dickens, and other topics.

This trailer tagline presumably contributed some to the approximately 145,400 tickets the movie sold in North America. The DVD offers everything the Blu-ray does, from this precious static menu to the numerous bonus features.

The extras fittingly conclude with The Invisible Woman's theatrical trailer (2:08).

The discs open with Sony's "Be Moved" promo and
trailers for Tim's Vermeer, The Lunchbox, Kill Your Darlings and Wadjda. The same five items are repeated when you select the menus' "Previews" listing.

UltraViolet fans will be disappointed to find no inserts joining the two discs inside the side-snapped keepcase, Sony's latest to forgo reverse side artwork inside.

The menu plays score over a still the film used for its theatrical one-sheet. As usual, Sony authors the Blu-ray to let you choose to resume playback and also place bookmarks on the film.

Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) uses finesse to set boundaries for him and Nelly. Nelly (Felicity Jones) holds mixed feelings about her relationship with Dickens.


The Invisible Woman is a marked improvement over Ralph Fiennes' first time in the director's chair, but he again struggles a bit to hold on to viewers' attentions. While it looks nice, its story is relatively interesting, and the cast is more than adequate (especially Felicity Jones), this film doesn't quite resonate as much more than a technically sound, mildly lurid historical drama. With the Oscars more than a month behind us, the need to see this anytime soon seems dramatically diminished.

Sony's Blu-ray combo pack provides a sumptuous feature presentation plus an extensive collection of talk-based extras. While not something I see many people watching with any regularity, it's a release that should satisfy those who really enjoyed the film.

Buy The Invisible Woman from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD

Buy from Amazon.com

Related Reviews:
Oscar Competition - Best Costume Design: The Great Gatsby • The Grandmaster • American Hustle
New: Saving Mr. Banks • The Past • Kill Your Darlings • At Middleton • Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Ralph Fiennes: Coriolanus • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 • Cemetery Junction
Felicity Jones: Like Crazy • Chιri • Brideshead Revisited | Kristin Scott Thomas: Only God Forgives • Nowhere Boy
The Other Boleyn Girl • The Last Station • The Iron Lady • My Week with Marilyn • Enchanted April
Charles Dickens: Oliver! • Scrooged • Mickey's Christmas Carol • The Muppet Christmas Carol • Oliver & Company

DVDizzy.com | DVD and Blu-ray Reviews | New and Upcoming DVD & Blu-ray Schedule | Upcoming Cover Art | Search This Site

Search This Site:

DVDizzy.com Top Stories:

Reviewed April 5, 2014.

Text copyright 2014 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2013 Sony Pictures Classics, West End Films, BBC Films, BFI, Magnolia Mae Films,
Taeoo Entertainment, Headline Pictures, and 2014 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.