Directed by: Saul Dibb
Cast: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell
Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Plot: The Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer (Knightley), was the original “it girl.” This film chronicles the life of the 18th century Duchess and her stormy relationship with the Duke (Fiennes).
Who’s It For? This is for all of you who want to feel the pain of a woman in a loveless marriage in the 1700s.
Expectations: Knightley and Fiennes in a period piece … Is this a rerun? Sure feels like it, and as for the director, I hadn’t seen a Dibb film yet, so this was my first.
Kiera Knightley as The Duchess of Devonshire, Georgiana Spencer: Her name is long, and this performance drags as well. Here’s something we need to explain, if you are a young woman living in the 18th century, and you marry for position … DON’T. That way we won’t have to see this character, which feels completely repetitive. Only once did I understand the Duchess was cutting edge in fashion, and that’s because the movie tells me.
Ralph Fiennes as Duke of Devonshire: Lord Voldermort is the highlight of the film. At times he is perfectly oblivious. The Duke cares about his dogs and having a boy, that’s it, that’s the list. His robot mannerisms and talk of mutton are so cold and removed from Georgiana that it becomes amusing, but then of course he must become a total arse, and I no longer want to be stuck with him on the screen.
Dominic Cooper as Charles Grey: Not dreamy. And as soon as logic enters into the equation I am stuck siding with the Duke over this love story. Charles never seems able to put himself in The Duchess’ fancy shoes.
Hayley Atwell as Bess Foster: As soon as she enters the film, it feels forced. She’s a nuisance. Even the quick lesbian scene between Atwell and Knightley doesn’t work. Bess has every right to manipulate for the sake of her children, and the Duchess eventually comes to understand, there is just no reason to be stuck watching.
Talking: “You have been missed, much missed.” Sigh, this is just one example of the lines that the actors aren’t able to bring to life. It’s just too bad the Duke didn’t do a simple background check to see if Georgina was opinionated and believed in love, then he wouldn’t have made this choice.
Sights & Sounds: The Duchess gets all of the scenery correct, there is nothing wrong with this part. Plus, Georgina has a feather in her hair, so I guess that’s something. Let’s discuss something more important. How do you become a duke? Being a close relative of the King/Queen, and then it can be passed down to sons. So now you know, and knowing is half the battle.
Castles, wigs, dresses … if that’s all you need, than The Duchess is sure to please. It seems every angle of infidelity is covered in this period piece, but there is no fun soap opera drama to go along with it. It’s just a lot of waiting. Waiting for the evil, distant Duke to get his, waiting for the Duchess to attempt and break free, but while we are waiting there is nothing exciting happening. It’s too insular. The Other Boleyn Girl has the same problem. There is rarely a look at the outside world, and isn’t that one of the reasons we watch period pieces? We’ve been here. We’ve done this. Period.