‘The Duchess’ starring Keira Knightley that is based on best selling book by Amanda Foreman, that tells the story of aristocrat Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire. The film was directed by Saul Dibb, and the screenplay was adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, and Foreman.
Set near the end of the eighteenth century, Georgiana is married to the older Duke of Devonshire, who like many of the period, seeks an heir. The Duke is distant, and as the Duchess learns an adulterer. The film tells the story of her rise as a fashion icon, a mother, political operator, and her own desperate search for love.
Keira Knightley and Ralph Fiennes delivery excellent performances here, very much at home with the characters. There are times period films don’t quite feel to be of the period (read: Marie Antoinette) due to reasons like casting, but this film definitely felt the period. The set pieces, costumes, and cinematography were excellent as well.
The film clocking in just under two hours definitely felt a bit on the long side, however, even while these films aren’t my cup a tea, I did not find it at all boring. The struggle of the Duchess to find at least some guilt or regret in the unloving cold Duke kept me engaged. Also, the difference in ethics, code, and the double standards for men vs. women was fascinating.
My one criticism of the film, there were some subplots of friendships the Duchess had with a playwright who penned a play based on her marriage. The film only touches the surface of this, and moves on, I would have loved to learn more, but then again, there is only so much you can cover in one film, and it would have taken away from the film as a whole.
So in short, period costume romantic dramas aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you find yourself engaged in the story, history, and/or love Keira Knightley, ‘The Duchess’ is for you.