Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 41
  2. Negative: 0 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 24, 2013
    100
    The Invisible Woman is an exceptional film about love, longing and regret. It's further proof, if proof were needed, that classic filmmaking done with passion, sensitivity and intelligence results in cinema fully capable of blowing you away.
  2. Reviewed by: Scott Foundas
    Sep 16, 2013
    100
    So tastefully mounted and brilliantly acted that it wears down even the corset-phobic’s innate resistance to such things.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Sep 15, 2013
    100
    A career high point for Ralph Fiennes as both an actor and director, this unfussy and emotionally penetrating work also provides lead actress Felicity Jones with the prime role in which she abundantly fulfills the promise suggested in some of her earlier small films.
  4. 90
    With her swanlike neck and ever-flushing complexion, Felicity Jones has a perfect nineteenth-century look, but there’s something forward and modern about her physiognomy, her huge eyes and strong nose and overbite. As she gazes down in enforced modesty, you feel her soul about to burst. The performance is startlingly vivid.
  5. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Dec 24, 2013
    90
    The Invisible Woman finds Ralph Fiennes proving as adept behind the camera as he is in front of it.
  6. Reviewed by: Godfrey Cheshire
    Dec 25, 2013
    88
    The film represents a formidable achievement for Fiennes as both actor and director.
  7. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 24, 2013
    88
    A meticulously rendered, tasteful and moving period drama.
  8. Reviewed by: Dave Calhoun
    Feb 4, 2014
    80
    The Invisible Woman is only partly a romance; it’s the tragedy of Nelly’s life that makes itself more powerfully heard.
  9. Reviewed by: Angie Errigo
    Feb 3, 2014
    80
    One for lovers of ravishing craft, although the elusive emotional engagement is frustrating.
  10. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jan 9, 2014
    80
    The performances are outstanding.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 28, 2013
    80
    The Invisible Woman gives us a plausible image of the great man in the fullness of his celebrity, and an affecting portrait of the woman who lived much of her life in his shadow.
  12. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Dec 24, 2013
    80
    You may become impatient with the leisurely pace of The Invisible Woman and its occasional narrative vagueness, but its open spaces leave room for some of the strongest acting of any contemporary film.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Dec 18, 2013
    80
    The movie deepens as Nelly, destined for the gossip columns and a peripheral attachment, becomes painfully aware of her own fragility (Jones’s performance is devastating).
  14. Reviewed by: Tim Robey
    Sep 15, 2013
    80
    Abi Morgan's script – better, for my money, than her work on either Shameor The Iron Lady – elegantly straddles two timelines to illuminate a deliberately obscured life
  15. Reviewed by: Catherine Shoard
    Sep 15, 2013
    80
    The Invisible Woman shies from propaganda just as Nelly shies from impropriety. Fiennes has done the right and proper thing here. He has, at 50, made a mature movie, prudent in the best possible sense.
  16. Reviewed by: William Goss
    Sep 15, 2013
    78
    Fiennes and writer Abi Morgan mercifully forsake the gee-golly traditions of similar fame-minded fare...in constructing a narrative as emotionally repressed as its subjects must have been, with each character existing within their own arena of personal and social compromise.
  17. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Jan 23, 2014
    75
    Felicity Jones gives a fierce and moving performance as Nelly.
  18. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 23, 2014
    75
    Fiennes isn’t naturally an outgoing performer, and he’s playing the most extroverted author in English history. So he does his best work in intimate moments, when Dickens finds himself at a loss for words.
  19. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Jan 23, 2014
    75
    Even if you don't entirely buy this version of events, director Ralph Fiennes has given us a speculation that works as drama. It's an elegant bit of goods.
  20. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Jan 17, 2014
    75
    Jones (Like Crazy) gives Nelly's tragic plight a palpable anguish. There is no doubt that Dickens - who was mad about theater, about acting, about inhabiting other lives onstage and in the pages of his books - was in love with Nelly.
  21. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Jan 16, 2014
    75
    The Invisible Woman is, fair warning, leisurely in its pace.
  22. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Jan 16, 2014
    75
    The Invisible Woman is less a conventional love story than a wise, often troubling contemplation of myriad modern impulses, from the lure of celebrity and public acclaim to the compartmentalizing of identity and the gender politics of Great Man-ism.
  23. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Jan 16, 2014
    75
    Beneath the period décor and lamp-lit elegance, this is a story of a profound emotional crime prompted by profound love.
  24. Reviewed by: Connie Ogle
    Jan 16, 2014
    75
    The Invisible Woman offers a compelling glimpse at a life once hidden.
  25. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jan 15, 2014
    75
    One of the singular pleasures of films like The Invisible Woman is the window they offer into the lives of deceased authors who are known primarily to modern audiences only through the words they committed to paper.
  26. 75
    Fiennes holds it all together by force of what he does show us about the man, his kindness tempered with cruelty, the charity he practiced and preached, the morality he could never live up to. It’s the visible great man who makes The Invisible Woman worth watching.
  27. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Jan 10, 2014
    75
    The Invisible Woman at its best does justice to the complicatedness of its characters – just as Dickens did as a writer.
  28. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jan 9, 2014
    75
    Very good at pointing out the social difficulties surrounding the Dickens-Ternan relationship, the power dynamics within it and the lasting effects of it.
  29. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 17, 2013
    75
    Mr. Fiennes admirably humanizes the characters while exploring their contradictions and emphasizing their feelings. But his no-frills direction is a bit stodgy for my taste, and although this is not the Dickens you’d ever pay to hear read "Little Dorrit," there’s more vitality in his performance than the film itself.
  30. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 15, 2013
    75
    Though suffering from dry patches and a fairly mannered approach, The Invisible Woman eventually makes its way to a powerful final third documenting an ultimately tragic romance in deeply felt terms.
  31. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Dec 25, 2013
    70
    A delicate counterpoise of passion and restraint, The Invisible Woman is a major work in a minor key.
  32. Reviewed by: Keith Phipps
    Dec 22, 2013
    70
    Jones delivers a quietly wrenching performance as a woman who comes to recognize too late how much of herself she’s lost. It’s subtle work in a film that is sometimes content to be a little too subtle.
  33. Reviewed by: Marc Mohan
    Jan 23, 2014
    67
    Fiennes and screenwriter Abi Morgan deserve credit for crafting something more nuanced than a mere scandal-airing demonization.
  34. Reviewed by: Chris Willman
    Sep 15, 2013
    67
    [Fiennes] has rarely been better than he is as the 19th century’s most celebrated novelist, with his chops on screen just about matched by what he’s done behind.
  35. Reviewed by: Farran Smith Nehme
    Dec 24, 2013
    63
    By refusing to consider that Dickens and Ternan ever brought each other any happiness, the movie is more Victorian in its attitudes than even some Victorians were.
  36. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Jan 6, 2014
    60
    Fiennes and his team have mounted a handsome re-creation of Victorian England, but the Dickens-Ternan affair isn't much of a story -- at least, not as realized here. [6 Jan. 2014, p.73]
  37. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Dec 24, 2013
    60
    Directed tastefully by Ralph Fiennes, The Invisible Woman is very lovely to look at. But it lives up to its own title too well.
  38. Reviewed by: Mike D'Angelo
    Dec 24, 2013
    58
    Handsome and intelligent, it’s nonetheless a tepid portrait of a relationship that would be unremarkable were the gentleman not Dickens.
  39. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Oct 10, 2013
    50
    Ralph Fiennes's film feels not so much rooted in the past as it is mired in conventions about how to portray that past.
  40. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Jan 24, 2014
    40
    There must also be a spark, a sense of life, a compelling reason for being. If a film doesn't have those -- which The Invisible Woman doesn't -- well, it might as well be invisible.
  41. Reviewed by: Steve Davis
    Jan 22, 2014
    40
    It’s the subtext of 19th century gender politics that keeps this footnote in Dickens’ life mildly interesting, but it’s a not much upon which to rest an entire movie.
User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 28 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 9
  2. Negative: 0 out of 9
  1. Jan 27, 2014
    5
    A lovely young woman (Felicity Jones) finds herself in a controversial affair with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes, who also directed). Actually, the whole thing is her flashback, but it doesn't really matter…it's pretty insipid either way. This period piece is beautifully-made, but its roots in a time of repressed emotion leaks into the film itself. It's so genteel, quiet and subdued, which translates into slow and dull. The performances are fine and the cinematography is pretty, but it's just too tamped down to ever rouse much emotional fervor. Full Review »
  2. May 27, 2014
    6
    Pretty dull. Even the famous train crash was boring. I've read the book and they left so much out, expected a lot more from this. Good acting but the film overall was a chore. Full Review »
  3. Apr 28, 2014
    6
    Having recently read Claire Tomlin's book upon which the movie was based and from which the movie takes its title, I was intrigued to see how the Ralph Fiennes, the director, would make a compellingly dramatic plot about this academically inclined book focuses on Charles Dickens and a young woman whose relationship is fairly ambiguous -- much in thanks to Mr. Dickens. The book focuses on the powerlessness of Victorian women to control their own lives, particularly young women who, while freed to a certain degree by involvement in theatre life, are forever cast out of polite society. It is clear from the book, without any Spoilers being provided, that Ellen Turnan, or Nelly, the woman in question, lived a life of shadows. The ambiguity of the relationship, her feelings about it, and exactly what the sexual nature was largely make for a very compelling read and remain the driving point of the book. Tomlins goes to great lengths not to impose her imposition of suspicions where fact does not strongly hint in such direction. The movie, is not as true to history (or at least that of which we know). Again, I will avoid spoilers for readers and viewers. The movie provides a viewpoint imposed by either its screen-writer, Abi Morgan, or Fiennes as director. Necessarily so, perhaps, but possibly the movie could have been more engaging with that "unknowing" that remains surrounding this relationship and this woman. That being said, I will that none of the liberties taken are out of the blue but chosen from an endless number of theories (discussed and favored by the author who also notes strongly there is no conclusive evidence for any theory's final validity). The film does provide an entertaining examination of one of the world's foremost authors and his control over a woman who appears to be self-determined in many ways. I appreciate the constant running from memories motif that is turned on its head at the end, so that we see Fanny no longer running away, but rather toward, herself. No longer hiding in the shadows but embracing that "She is here." Again, Felicity Jones is exceptionally adept at portraying the silently warring feelings this woman must have surely endured throughout her life after meeting Mr. Dickens. Mr. Fiennes plays an interesting Dickens. I wish, however, the film had shown in more detail the lengths to which Mr. Dickens went to conceal his double life and the war within himself that he was likely waging. This would have given the actor room to work his acting chops while further underscoring the reasons why Fanny is invisible in history. But he probably is wise in his choice of focus on Nelly. Felicity Jones' exceptional depiction of this woman of whom so much be inferred is masterful. She conveys the constant straining of emotion and agency in Fanny with few words, successfully using her face to show the internal human warring with herself and the world over her circumstances, her feelings, and her desire to come out of the shadows. Her exceptional will to find a way amidst her unusual circumstances isn't adequately driven home by the movie -- but not due to Felicity Jones' superb work. And the liberties taken with unknown facts, I feel, do a disservice to the point of how profoundly invisible her life was until after Dickens' death and how painful it must have been for the remainder of her days. The scenery and costume along with set design are exceptional. Dialogue is very well written. Structure of the story excellently constructed given the difficulty of how to adapt from the book. Overall, it was exceptionally interesting if not completely satisfying in what it could have been. But I do thank the movie for bringing Felicity Jones' to the forefront -- an oddly gratifying thing for a fellow actress considering Ellen Turnan's, herself an actress in a family of actors) life in the background. Full Review »