New DVDs: 'The Invisible Woman,' 'Breaking the Girls,' 'Bletchley Circle,' and more

Ralph Fiennes is Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones his much-younger lover, Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, in "The Invisible Woman."
Ralph Fiennes is Charles Dickens and Felicity Jones his much-younger lover, Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, in "The Invisible Woman." (Sony Pictures Classics)
Posted: April 12, 2014

It's heartening to know that even Charles Dickens, that pillar of Victorian virtue and civic responsibility, had his share of forbidden passions - and even succumbed to one.

That would be the great author's adulterous love for Ellen "Nelly" Ternan, an actress 27 years his junior whom he met in 1857 when he was casting The Frozen Deep, a play he co-wrote with Wilkie Collins.

A year later, the 45-year-old Dickens left his wife of 22 years, Catherine - ostensibly for the 18-year-old Nelly. A celebrity in Victorian England, Dickens could hardly divorce his wife - or openly live with Nelly.

What makes their liaison all the more fascinating is that the lovers eventually destroyed all their correspondence, leading biographers, critics, and artists to fill in the gaps with their own imaginations.

That includes biographer Claire Tomalin, who has argued that the couple lived together in secret for the last 13 years of Dickens' life.

Actor Ralph Fiennes takes his cue from Tomalin in his sophomore outing as director, The Invisible Woman.

Starring Fiennes as Dickens and the remarkable Felicity Jones as Nelly, the film was hailed by critics as a luscious, steamy, and yet thoughtful and mature period drama.

It's due Tuesday from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. ( https://store.sonyentertainmentnetwork.com; $35.99 DVD/Blu-ray combo; rated R)

Other titles of interest

Breaking the Girls. TV director Jamie Babbit ( Drop Dead Diva, Rizzoli & Isles) has some serious post-feminist, lipstick-lesbian fun in this fun feature, a sexy twist on Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train. Child actor turned Californication sexpot Madeline Zima co-stars with Agnes Bruckner as two twentysomething women who follow up an intense night of sex with a murder plot: Each will kill the other's enemy. ( www.mpimedia.com; $24.98; not rated)

Ride Along. Ice Cube stars in this buddy comedy as a tough-as-nails cop who isn't convinced his sister's boyfriend (Kevin Hart) is husband material. So he takes the dude on a crime tour. ( http://www.universalstudiosentertainment.com; $34.98 DVD/Blu-ray Combo; rated PG-13)

The Great Profile. Released as part of Twentieth Century Fox's no-frills Cinema Archive series, Walter Lang's 1940 classic stars John Barrymore in a semi-autobiographical tale as a famous alcoholic stage artiste with a mean, self-destructive streak. ( www.foxconnect.com; $19.98; not rated)

Barefoot. Andrew Fleming ( The In-Laws) directs Scott Speedman and a radiant Evan Rachel Wood in this romantic comedy about a gambler and con man sentenced to do his community service at a mental-health facility, where he meets the girl of his dreams. Warm, gentle, if a bit hackneyed, it's due April 22. ( www.lionsgateshop.com; $19.98; rated PG-13)

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The second part in Peter Jackson's prequel trilogy is a solid, wondrous adventure. ( www.wbshop.com; $28.98 DVD; $44.95 Blu-ray 3D /Blu-ray/DVD Combo; PG-13)

Riot in Cell Block 11.This tightly wound, beautifully orchestrated jailhouse thriller from 1954 is one of the earlier films by crime thriller maestro Don Siegel ( The Killers, Coogan's Bluff). It's due April 22. ( www.criterion.com; $24.95 DVD; $39.95 DVD/Blu-ray Combo; not rated)

Bletchley Circle: Season 2. The code-breaking, crime-solving ladies (Anna Maxwell Martin, Rachael Stirling, Sophie Rundle, and Julie Graham) are back in the second season of this cracking British mystery, which contains two two-part stories, including a hair-raising case in which the amateur detectives try to prove one of their colleagues is innocent of murder. It's due Tuesday from PBS. ( www.shoppbs.org; $29.99; not rated)


Most titles also available for digital download from major retailers.

tirdad@phillynews.com

215-854-2736

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