** out of ****
Acclaimed actor Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List, The English Patient) makes his directorial debut with the period romance The Invisible Woman.
Fiennes stars as Charles Dickens at the height of his fame. He's in a loveless marriage when he meets a younger woman (Felicity Jones). The two are attracted to each other and an affair ensues as Dickens tries to keep his private life out of the public eye.
The film is well-costumed, acted, and Fiennes has a decent eye for shot composition, and there are a few interesting glimpses into life in 19th century England. However, the movie's central romance lacks any kind of spark. Without the sense that these two truly have a once-in-a-lifetime connection, the movie feels like the story of a jerk cheating on his wife.
Romantic chemistry is not something that can be quantified, so it's hard to pinpoint exactly why the romance between the two leads here feels so chilly. But it does. The Invisible Woman is not a bad film and Fiennes may yet move on to make a good one on his next try, but this one is likely of interest only to hardcore Dickens fans.