Thursday, October 02, 2008

Review: The Duchess (2008)

Can I just say, I'm so glad that I live in the time and place that I do now. Women have been undermined for millenia, and as if we needed one more movie just to show us, in intimate detail how much it actually sucked.

The Duchess is a portrait of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (Keira Knightley), who was married at 17 to the Duke of Devonshire (Ralph Fiennes), for the only reason women were ever married back then; to produce heirs. She doesn't produce a son for quite some time, thus drama ensues.

Knightley starts out as a 17 year old, and you really believe it. She's shy and seems adolescent, but isn't afraid to speak her mind, obviously raised to be an independent woman. Fiennes is scary and downright asshole-ish. It's not too difficult to believe, citing two recent portrayals of his (See: In Bruges and the Harry Potter series).

Hayley Atwell (Cassandra's Dream, Brideshead Revisited) plays the third wheel in their relationship, Lady Elizabeth, firstly best friend of 'G', and then mistress of the Duke, thus causing a rift between the two women, and a bigger rift between husband and wife. She plays the kind friend wonderfully, and also the awkward third wheel well. Not only that, but she's gorgeous. I think I have a crush.

Overall, the film is pulled off well with a very fine mixture of substance and sentiment. Keira plays motherhood exceptionally, and it's not hard to sympathize with a woman who is constantly beaten down by the system, especially when portrayed so effortlessly. Kudos to Knightley.

Grade: B

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