Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Duchess

Movie name: The Duchess
Year of release: 2008
Director: Saul Dibb
Stars: Keira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Simon McBurney, Aidan McArdle, Alistair Petrie
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Synopsis:The Duchess follows the life of Georgiana Spencer, who married the Duke of Devonshire at a very early age. There have been comparisons between the life of Georgiana and that of Princess Diana: both were glamorous and adored by everyone (social butterflies also). Saul Dibb's film follows a more traditional approach to the biopic of a woman married into a loveless marriage. Georgiana is naturally flirty and follows the arranged marriage that her mother provides - all in the exchange of a male heir for the much older Duke. The relationship between the two spouses is scarce and the Duke treats it very much like a contract based one. When Georgiana makes a friend with Lady Bess Foster, she brings home the woman that eventually becomes her husband's mistress, much to Georgiana's shock. Her desire to find love of her own leads to a clash with her husband and family life.
The film has a period scenery and attention to detail that reminds the classic Merchant Ivory, but unlike James Ivory's films, there's definitely something missing. Keira Knightley's portrayal of Georgiana doesn't really transcend anything she's ever done - the role needed someone who could make the character more alive, someone that could show the contradictions that a woman trapped in a loveless relationship experiences. Ralph Fiennes is terrific as always - his movements, his cold and reserved stare make his Duke a figure that is both tragic and hateful. The great Charlotte Rampling does a terrific job in her brief role as Georgiana's mother. This is a film worth checking with some reservations.