Charles Dickens (Fiennes) is a name familiar to all. To see him in his own world, a flawed yet very real man with a wife, a large family and both an acting and writing career that need tending, is quite the experience. He is a super star of the times, feted by the nobility and the wealthy and mobbed by adoring fans. He seems almost distracted by and rather controlling of his works.
As his marriage appears to have faltered and he is well into his middle age, it is almost inevitable that he fall in love with the young, dewy-eyed actress Nelly (Jones). Nelly is not a very good actress and her widowed mother Frances (Scott Thomas) fears for her future, so it is with this is mind that she give her tacit blessing to the forbidden union of the married writer and her 18-year-old daughter.
Charles and Nelly were to stay together until his death.
Their story is told in a series of flashbacks. Nelly is now a happily married wife and mother who offhandedly dismisses her association with Dickens, relegating it to a mere childhood fancy. Of course, no one is her life suspects the true nature of their relationship as she is now a respectable woman so whatever taint of scandal may have touched her is long forgotten.
This movie is a period piece of exceptional quality. It is slowly paced with very little dialogue in many parts, allowing the viewer to feel the emotions rather than have them spoken. Lots of longing glances and lazing around under trees reading as the sunshine filters through. It’s perfect for a time when the days were not spent rushing about. Of course, neither Dickens or Nelly had to earn their keep as common folk so they had the time to be languid.
Fiennes both acts and directs and is wonderful in both capacities yet it is the young Miss Jones who shines and gives this movie its heart and soul. She is thoroughly believable as a love struck young girl who is naive enough to want to be with her love but not naive enough to think this does not affect her reputation and standing in the most negative of ways. She is naive but she is not stupid.
All the main characters are fleshed out and it is time that allows this to happen. Fiennes does not rush this movie……. rather he lets it flow and drift along at its own pace. There are moments of great activity, such as when there is a play to be rehearsed, but even then only dialogue that is truly necessary is uttered. You get to fill in some blanks which I find refreshing and very satisfying. You never to get to really witness the passion these two people had for one another but you do feel it with every glance, every flaunting of society’s rules and conventions.
I love period pieces and I loved this movie. A wonderful way to spend a few hours, drifting along watching a passionate yet doomed romance unfold. Just wonderful.
Love Flick xx
Director : Ralph Fiennes
Starring : Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott Thomas, John Kavanagh, Tom Hollander
Running Time : 111 minutes
Release Date : 24 April 2014