This dramatic feature recounts the 13-year love affair between Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) and Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), an actress many years his junior whom he sheltered from public view to protect his reputation. The film is less concerned with Dickens (and even less with his literary career) than with the repressive social climate of Victorian England, that sturdy whipping post of the British costume drama. As director, Fiennes avoids the emotional detachment one expects from the genre, aiming instead for a hushed, at times discomforting sense of intimacy. Yet an air of complacency hangs over the project; its condemnation of Victorian sexism makes us congratulate ourselves for our more enlightened views. With Kristin Scott Thomas, quite good as Ternan's calculating mother.
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