Saul Dibb's THE DUCHESS
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
I’m a sucker for 18th Century costume dramas, especially if part of the time is spent in sailing ships. This one, despite being landlocked, is heads above most.
Young Georgina is married off to the fabulously wealthy Duke of Devonshire. But she sees her life becoming dull and spiritless as she finds herself unable to bear her clod of a husband a male heir. She turns to whirlwind social activities, gambling, politics, and ultimately, an affair with a future Prime Minister.
It sounds like a soap opera but it isn’t. Acting, direction, costumes, photography, and music all combine to create a moody and at times gnawingly emotional tale of how even upper-class women were sub-second class citizens in so many ways.
Performances are first rate. Keira Knightley (the Duchess), Ralph Fiennes (the Duke), and Charlotte Rampling (the Duchess’ mother) all lend complexity and depth to their characters that express so much more than just the raw meaning from the dialog.
Review copyright (c) 2009 by Dennis D. McDonald