You know when you see a period piece, you’re probably going to see it get a nod for it’s Costume Design. The story is no different here, in Ralph Fiennes second director’s hat. He also stars in the film as the literary protagonist, Charles Dickens, living in the literary limelight and toeing the line of risky, potentially abashed love.
Felicity Jones (the perfect illustration for the word, “dollface”) plays the young love interest – whom Dickens courts as a mistress, fascinated by her youthful enthusiasm for love stories, life stories and how they mirror truth. She’s a deep thinker, but also a free thinker, with a huge potential for a colorful life laid out before her. When Dickens captures her heart, she faces the harsh reality that her future now caps out as a mistress, hidden and avoided by the public eye and their families.
The thematic seems to ask, “but is it justifiable in true love?” Watching the movie makes you teeter between yes and no as we watch Jones (who carries the entire movie) battle her past for her future. Was it true love, or was it a fantasy? And, how can she ever really know what true love is, if she constantly misses what she had with Dickens.
It brings full circle the feminine woes of then, and now, whether your beau is dressed in knickers and top hats or basketball shorts and Oakleys. Life tainted by a public eye is still a life—but how do you keep it genuine and in perspective? Can you?
Alas, the movie plays out like that of a Dickens novel – which I love. It’s long. It’s slow. But, it’s deliberate and poignant, thought-provoking and sweet. It won’t win an Oscar over Gatsby, but the story is a worthy watch for literary lovers and historical saps. Bottom line—it’s another Netflix queue pick.