Movie Reviews

Film Review: “The Duchess”

(Paramount Vantage. 1 hour, 45 minutes. Rated PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material. Directed by Saul Dibb.) Keira Knightley (Georgiana), Ralph Fiennes (The Duke), Dominic Cooper (Charles Grey), Hayley Atwell (Bess Foster), Charlotte Rampling (Lady Spencer). Music by Rachel Portman.

Knightley plays the real-life Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, married at 17 to Fiennes’ Duke, then having to endure her husband’s taking her best friend as his mistress. The Duke of Devonshire was so powerful, he answered only to the King and could behave without fear of consequences. Fiennes’ subtle performance ends up outpacing Knightley, who’s a bit overcome by lavish sets, corsets, and towering wigs. She’s no stranger to period pieces, of course, but she needs to dominate the proceedings the way she did in Pride and Prejudice. The media has made much of the Duchess being an ancestor to Princess Diana, but in the end it isn’t really all that relevant. The movie is pleasant enough, yet I’m betting it’s not something you’d watch over and over like Pride.

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