October 11, 2008
Movie Review: The Duchess
Some of the few people who went to see The Duchess last night were Heather and Stephen Douglas, fellow blogger. Stephen has been kind enough to provide the Guide with a review of The Duchess. Heather and I have already spent a lot of time discussing our thoughts and observations from the movie, starting about 20 minutes after we each viewed it. You can read about that in Heathers review (warning...spoilers). What is exciting about this review is that Mr. Douglas has not read Amanda Foreman's book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and is experiencing it for what it is. A movie based on the true story of Georgiana's life. Enjoy!!
Georgiana, from what I've heard, was fabulous. The Duchess did nothing to change that impression. The story of "G" is a story of celebrity before I even realized there were celebrities. "G" drank and gambled and was always the center of attention.
Kiera Knightly is apparently the only woman with a British accent who is up to the task of playing the leading lady in any historical drama. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Knightly provided another strong performance and did a great job playing at different times - strong, weak, vulnerable, and of course fabulous.
Despite the fact that the film was a heavily-costumed historical drama, The Duchess was not without its moments of humor. Most of which were provided by the dry and mostly clueless, Duke of Devonshire, played by Ralph Fiennes. Fiennes was excellent, providing a sometimes-powerful, sometimes-boring performance. The boredom is by design as The Duke's sole motive in life is to produce a male heir. Other than that, he had dogs. That's about it.
G's inability to provide that son, combined with her husbands inability to be caring or remain faithful drive the film. Georgiana invites her friend Bess Foster to live in Devonshire. Bess is played bust-ily by Hayley Atwell. Georgiana, Bess and The Duke soon turn into an awkwardly put together family. All in all, it was really quite scandalous.
Visually, the movie was beautiful. The film moved at a good pace and remained interesting throughout. It was a bit surprising that the film was only 110 minutes. It seems like a lot of material was left out. If I hadn't known anything about Georgiana, the gambling scenes would have seemed almost incidental. My only complaint was the ending, which I feel went on a scene too long. The movie is a must-see for anyone interested in this period of history.