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The Duchess
DVD disk
01.16.2009 By: Jason Adams
The Duchess order
Director:
Saul Dibb

Actors:
Keira Knightley
Ralph Fiennes
Dominic Cooper

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The Duchess of Devonshire was like the Jackie O of the 18th century, a celebrity known for her inspiring fashion sense and envious lifestyle. But behind closed doors the “Empress of Fashion” lived a tumultuous life with an awful husband and a forbidden love as she tried to navigate the rigors of male dominated society.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Keira Knightley in a period movie. At least THE DUCHESS gets points for creativity.

Okay, that’s a little shallow for a critic to say, but honestly these kind of period flicks just aren’t my cup of tea (and also it’s a really obvious joke and I’m lazy). However, THE DUCHESS had a playful and lighthearted tone that drew me in…before taking a severely serious and dramatic tone for the rest of the movie. The plot went places I wasn’t expecting and I can honestly say I didn’t know what I was in store for, which is a nice surprise nowadays. The story brings up interesting points about gender roles and royal life; nothing too unexplored in movies, but still complex and effed up enough to make for a decent drama.

Knightley would be impressive just for being able to wear the Duchess’ ridiculous clothing and giant hairdos, but she gives a legitimately good performance—a much more adult and mature performance than we’re used to seeing with her. Even though we were just seeing her as a teenager her last few movies, I had no problem buying her as a mother having serious life crises. Ray Fiennes does quieter but equally impressive work, a seemingly evil man imbued with enough human flaws to not completely disengage the viewer. He’s a crappy husband and a right bastard, but admirably Knightley gives it as good as she gets.

THE DUCHESS isn’t a flick I’d rewatch again, but it held my attention and interest for two hours, which is rare with a costume drama. The random lesbian scene didn’t hurt either.
THE EXTRAS
How Far She Went (22:52): This multi-part making-of piece cover the actors, the real life characters, sets, costumes, wigs…you name it. A little too heavy on film footage, but it gets the point across.

Georgiana In Her Own Words (7:11): A look at the letters the real Georgiana wrote about her life and some commentary by real British people.

Costume Diary (5:38): The wardrobe was definitely impressive and the costume designer discusses the hard work that went in to it.

Previews.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
THE DUCHESS may be another period movie starring Keira Knightley, but it’s got an interesting real life story, some good performances and a whole bunch of big ass costumes and wigs to back it up. Worth a rental for fans of drama or older time periods.

Extra Tidbit: Much like the PIRATE posters, the studio tried to digitally increase Keira Knightley’s bust in promotional materials for THE DUCHESS until she objected.
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