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Drama - Historic

The Duchess (2008)

Duration1h 50m
RatingsUK: 12A, USA: PG-13, Spain: 7 
Source of storyA book “Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire” by Amanda Foreman
DirectorSaul Dibb
Writers/ScriptJeffrey Hatcher, Anders Thomas Jensen, Saul Dibb
StarringKeira Knightley, Ralph Fiennes, Charlotte Rampling, Dominic Cooper, Hayley Atwell, Simon McBurney, John Shrapnel, Michael Medwin,
RatingsIMDb: 6.9 by 80,000 people .  Rotten Tomatoes: 62% by 170 reviewers.

Elevator Pitch: At 17 Georgiana Spencer is married to the Duke of Devonshire, who is many years older than she is, for the specific purpose of providing the dynasty with an heir. It is evident that the duke does not love her, but nevertheless offspring are produced, two daughters who are joined in the household by Charlotte, the result of the duke’s liaison with a domestic servant. Georgiana makes her own enjoyment which includes being fashionable and gambling. She makes a friend in the person of  Bess Foster only to have the duke take the woman as his lover. Georgiana takes a lover herself, in the person of Charles Grey, by whom she has a child but the birth is concealed. It goes on.

Content: There is sex, usually partially clothed or behind closed doors. There are elaborate dances and dinners at some of which Georgiana expresses political views, and becomes a supporter of the Wiggs (I think). Whenever she threatens to go off the rails her mother, Lady Spencer, is called in to keep her in line. The Duke of Devonshire seems to like his dogs more than humans. People drive about in carriages a bit, and often walk by the lakes of country houses. The country houses are delightfully presented. G gambles. Once Bess is installed in the house the three of them are often seen at dinner.

A View: This outing was quite well liked by the general public and moderately endorsed by the critics, although some were offended by its overt costumery. I liked it a lot. The Bess situation allowed the publicity to use the phrase “There are three people in this marriage”! Keira Knightley is terrific, so is Ralph Feinnes; Dominic Cooper not quite so well suited to the role of Charles Grey.  No-one is going to call this high drama but it is a worthwhile presentation of 18th Century aristocratic life. Well worth a couple of hours of your time.

Additional info: Publicity pictures of the duchess with digitally enhanced boobs were pulled at Keira Knightley’s request.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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