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VFF 2013—Day 4: 'The Invisible Woman' and 'Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom'
Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones in 'The Invisible Woman'

Editor's Note: Most moviegoers don't get to attend many film festivals, but festivals are important nonetheless. What happens at a festival can influence how, when, and even whether a film will get out to audiences.

Two of our regular critics were at the Virginia Film Festival this weekend and sent daily updates, capsule reviews, and reflections on what they saw. Here's Ken Morefield's report on day one;Nick Olson's report on day two; andKen Morefield's report on day three.

The Invisible Woman (directed by Ralph Fiennes)
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (directed by Justin Chadwick)

"We have fallen in love with men of distinction," Caroline Graves (Michelle Fairley) tells Nell Ternan (Felicity Jones) in The Invisible Woman. For the former, that would be Wilkie Collins; for the latter, Charles Dickens. Nell insists that she doesn't love the Victorian writer. If so, she's the only one appearing in or making the movie of whom that is apparently true.

One of the first pieces of cultural criticism I ever attempted, way back when I was in high school, was an examination of how and why so many films and television series were formally structured to justify adultery. (I was angry at Herman Wouk's The Winds of War for making me root as a reader for naval officer Pug Henry to ditch his wife.) The two most common practices, it seemed to me, were to 1) make the wife ugly or 2) make the wife a shrew.

That's a fairly unsophisticated critique, even for a high school student, but it struck me in watching The Invisible Woman how little has changed since then. The camera lingers over Nell's bare neck, like a lover coming from behind to share an intimate moment. By contrast, when Dickens ...

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VFF 2013—Day 4: 'The Invisible Woman' and 'Mandela: Long Walk to ...
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