Film Review: The Duchess

I finally saw this movie recently. I've been waiting to see it since its U.S. theatrical release (Sept. 19th), but it was on limited release and it didn't expand till early October. I almost thought I won't see this movie on the big-screen as it was taking so long for my local theater to add this movie in their "now playing" screens. It took a long time for Atonement to be added in more theaters...so I wasn't expecting much for The Duchess. To my surprise, this one is actually showing now and much earlier than Atonement was last year. So, I was so glad and got excited when I saw on the movie listing that it is now showing. I went to see it with my mother and we both loved and enjoyed this film.

Here's my review of this movie...with caution though of slight spoilers mention here and there...


The Duchess (2008)
starring Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper


Watch The Duchess True-HD trailer below:

[source: YTGarbage]

Brief Synopsis: A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

My The Duchess Review:

First of all...here's a lil' more of the premise from the Daily Mail about what this film was all about, which I altered a lil' bit...

The Duchess centers around Georgiana (Keira Knightley), the fifth Duchess of Devonshire who was a social powerhouse of the 18th century. Born Lady Georgiana Spencer, who's a descendant of the late Princess Diana's, she married the fifth Duke of Devonshire in an arranged marriage, becoming one of the great political hostesses of the era.

She was a smart, ambitious woman who lived life to the fullest, took lovers and gambled heavily. According to Amanda Foreman's mouth-watering biography of Georgiana, upon which this film was based, the duchess's closest friend Lady Elizabeth Foster (known as Bess) became the duke's mistress. For two decades, Georgiana and Bess shared favours with the duke. There are other fascinating tales of Georgiana's aristocratic lifestyle, but to learn more you'll have to either read Foreman's award-winning book or watch this film, which is currently showing in theaters near you.

Now, read on for my film review...

I must say, The Duchess is one of the few best films I've seen this year, of all the films I've seen in 2008 (thus far). This movie far exceeded my expectations. In fact, I didn't expect much from this film, but I know I wanted to see it, knowing Keira Knightley, one of my favorite actresses was starring and playing the lead title role would be amazing on this one (as she did in Atonement and P&P) and sure enough Keira didn't disappoint. She was superb in this film as Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire. I thought she was good in Atonement as Cecilia Tallis, but she did not have much screen time nor her role/character was more like a supporting role than a lead role and not so much fun, interesting, and intriguing to watch as this one. In this film, she was the main attraction and always get your attention every time she appears on the screen as the very charming, appealing, and beautiful Georgiana with her elegant dresses/gowns, big hair, and hats. In her leading role here, Keira gets more screen time (much like her 2005 Oscar nominated role of Elizabeth Bennet in Pride & Prejudice), not too mention she owned the title role as she was incredible and very convincing as The Duchess. I won't be surprised if she gets another well-deserved Oscar nomination for this film. Perhaps this time, she will win it (*knocks on wood*) as she definitely has grown up and matured in this film. I thought her portrayal of Georgiana's incredible true-to-life story was simply amazing. She took this role to whole new level. As Georgiana, she was fun, witty, charming, strong and vulnerable at the same time, appealing, controversial, smart, elegant, beautiful, sad, unhappy, sympathetic, forgiving to her cheating husband and her friends betrayal towards her, caring, loving, and a wonderful mother to her children. I can't help but be engrossed and mesmerized by Keira's beautiful presence on screen. She just captures your interest whenever she's on-screen. As Georgiana, she also portrayed her on-screen with class, elegance, and dignity as well. In my opinion, I think this is her 2nd best role/performance (and one of her few best period films) to date since her Oscar nominated role/performance as Elizabeth Bennet in 2005's P&P (of course, P&P film, in my opinion... still remains her best film, best performance, and my most favorite of all her films...as it made me noticed her versatile acting ability and made me a KK fan).

The visual screen shots and scenery of this film was beautiful and visually stunning. It reminded me a bit of P&P's equally visually stunning cinematography. The unexpected and refreshingly fun opening scene had already won me over as it was clever and funny with Keira's Georgiana gambling with her girlfriends and using those young men as their race horses, lol. At first, I didn't get what they were doing until Georgiana started taking her girfriends' money, haha... I thought it was funny. I've never seen anyone played that kind of interesting game before (in movies or not), hehe! This period drama was definitely worth watching and worth your time and money. It was very interesting, intriguing, sad, funny, clever, and simply just delightful to watch all at the same time. It was brilliantly done with a very well-written script, great casting and directing, superb acting by Keira, Ralp Fienness as the Duke of Devonshire (married to Keira's Duchess) with a mistress has never been better, and the rest of the cast were outstanding as well. The musical score was beautiful and hypnotic and just fits in the most important scenes through out the film. The period costumes esp. Georgiana's several costume changes through out the film were as elegant and gorgeous as Keira Knightley herself. I must admit, I never expected I would love and enjoyed watching this movie from beginning to end. Though there was this one scene that I thought was controversial and never expected to have seen. I won't really spoil it her, I'll just say, it was the scene between Georgiana and her husband's mistress Bess. They had this one brief, intimate bonding scene that will surprised you. I know I was and speechless too, lol. Whether or not it actually happened, that looked controversial and definitely surprises and makes you curious if there was something more going on between them. Though, you'll just have to watch this movie to see and judge this scene for yourself. Other than that, the rest of the film was fascinating and Georgiana's unhappy marriage to the Duke of Devonshire sure reminded me of the late Princess Diana's own unhappy marriage to Prince Charles. Not too mention, Georgiana and Diana had another interesting similarities. Besides their broken marriages, they were both loving and wonderful mothers to their kids. Also, they were both popular in the way they dresses with trendy fashion sense and elegance in their times/eras. They were loved and admired by people and society as well. I guess, it's true what they say, that history repeats itself.

I highly recommend you see this movie, if you haven't seen it yet. It is worth watching. It's also a plus if you're a Keira Knightley fan. Beautiful period movies like this (and P&P) definitely, is her forte. Though whether you are a fan of her films or not, this film was still worth a look. Keira was flawless in this film.

Overall, a Must See Film. Keira Knightley is The Duchess.


My The Dutchess Film Rating: ! (10/10; A+)

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