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4.1 out of 5 stars
The Duchess [DVD] [2008]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I had read the book by Amanda Foreman and thought I'd give the film a miss as I thought it would be trivialised, especially as the publicity had emphasised the blood relationship to Diana, Princess of Wales. I watched this with no great expectations..

Obviously, it doesn't have the depth of the biography but it's very successful nonetheless. Knightley was a revelation here, a very affecting and intelligent performance. Fiennes is intense and their scenes work well. I wasn't as convinced by the love scenes with Grey or by the growing relationship between Fiennes and Lady Bess Foster.

The film is just gorgeous visually, the costumes sumptuous, the hair fantastic in every sense of the word, the real settings awe inspiring - that's what they were built for after all.

Unlike other reviewers here I didn't mind that the narrative arc didn't cover all of her life - this was enough drama.

On the DVD you get three deleted scenes - the first of which I think the director should have retained, and a fascinating documentary on the making of the film which includes Foreman and the producer at Chatsworth reading Georgiana's extremely well written letters (Foreman wasn't wearing gloves which bothered me somewhat in an OCD kind of way).

Entertaining and affecting
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 June 2009
I watched this movie on Blu-ray two weeks ago, and find that I'm still thinking about it. Kiera Knightly is perfectly cast as the complex Duchess of Devonshire, who lived in the latter part of the eighteenth century.

The film follows most of the Duchess's life from the time she was married to the aloof Duke. The film perfectly shows just what a charismatic and remarkable woman she was, and how she coped with living in a loveless marriage and having to accommodate having her husband's lover living in the same house.

Living in a time when women didn't even have the vote, she used her charisma and beauty to great effect in the politics of the day, and managed to combine this with a great love for her children, while trapped in her private life by a cruel and despising husband.

During the film you root for Georgiana, hoping that she will find some kind of love and lasting happiness.

This was a beautiful film, the sumptuous costumes and photography just sublime. In fact I can't find anything wrong with it. That said, Kiera Knightley, stole the show. Can't say I was a huge fan of hers until seeing this, but in my opinion the film wouldn't have been the same with a different actress, and I think it is her finest performance to date.

As for the Blu-ray edition, well the quality is faultless, and I would say it is well worth paying the extra in order to do the film justice.

Buy this to enjoy again and again.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
I really enjoyed watching this film. The period costumes were great, the scenery and lighting were fantastic. I am not a huge Kiera Knightley fan but I thought that she showed a real commitment to the character of Georgiana.
Having also read the book that inspired the film, I was intrigued to see how the film would compare. I think the way to look at it is to recognise that they have captured the essence of Georgiana. The film shows a little of this incredibly fascinating person and the pressures and temptations of her life.
Some aspects of this film are tragic, so not a feel good chick flick, but worth a watch!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2010
Keira Knightley is an actress that is given very little credit. An unbelievable amount of people cannot stand her. I however think she is fabulous and this is by far her superior performance.

I had read the book by Amanda Foreman years before this adaption was made and was immediately captured by this womans amazing and poignant life. Her ailments... why she's an alcoholic, a gambler, a drug addict, in an unloving and at times aggresive marriage to the horrible Duke who is having an affair with her best friend, The duchess however is in love with another man who she has a child with but she must give her away. oh... gosh... she has had a really REALLY hard life.

The film is visually beautiful, the scenery, and architecture with the award winning costumes make this film very easy on the eye. Combine this with fabulous actors, a truly superb and heartbreaking story and the result is a truly unmissable film.

Highlights the harsh reality of nobility to great affect. Next time you wish you were a princess or a duchess watch this! makes you realise that it is not all jewels and tiaras.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 23 August 2009
I strongly believe that anyone fond of period dramas and 18th century society will deem this film absolutely adorable. The script is really interesting on itself and what makes the movie fantastic are the stunning performances of acclaimed actress Keira Knightley and actors Ralph Fiennes, Dominic Cooper and more.
Something else that catches the viewer's attention is how realistic a film 'The Duchess' is. Let us not forget that it was the winner of this year's Academy Award in 'Best Achievement in Costume Design' and, furthermore, it was nominated for 'Best Achievement in Art Direction too'.
Personally, I was amazed by the amount of special features of this DVD, as there was a lot to discover behind the story of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Deleted scenes, not available in other editions, are included as well.
In conclusion, 'The Duchess' is a masterpiece with great cast and crew and I highly recommend it to anyone with a good taste in films.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2009
The photography of this film is stunning in blu ray, a real treat.
I cannot recommend it more. The costumes and scenery come to life in your home. Five stars from me.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 16 January 2009
"The Duchess" is visually stunning to the point of distraction. The sets, costumes and manners are straight out of the "BBC meets the National Trust" school of period drama; some scenes are so authentic that they could have been designed by Reynolds or Gainsborough.

Although based on Amanda Foreman's book "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire , the film concentrates on Georgiana's marriage to the powerful Duke of Devonshire and her extra-marital affair with Charles Grey, a young Whig politician who eventually became Prime Minister.

Despite the denials, there are unmistakable parallels with Diana, Princess of Wales. Georgiana's marriage is dynastic rather than romantic and she is a good mother, naturally gifted with children. As a wife, she suffers from a legal and moral double standard that turns a blind eye to her husband's adultery, whilst labelling her "a whore" when she decamps to Bath with her lover.

There are brief glimpses of another, more gutsy, side of Georgiana which is never really developed; this is the difference between a "safe at the box office" film and a great one. Georgiana Spencer was a highly intelligent and well educated young woman who, as the wife of the Duke of Devonshire, was able to wield considerable political clout.

Ralph Fiennes gives a fine performance as the Duke, although we are left wondering about the influences that shaped him. Keira Knightley does well as an 18th century Diana, but is no match for the real Georgiana. She deserves better. There was a time when the BBC would have dedicated a 13-part prime-time drama to this great-granddaughter of Sarah Churchill.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2010
I loved this movie and left me breathless. Keira Knightley (whom we all know as Elizabeth Swann in the trilogy PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) deserves an OSCAR for a fantastic performance she gave as Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire. Great story, it leaves you pinned down to your seat waiting for is next. I won't say anthing about the story as one really needs to see this movie. One of my favourites for this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2009
As a lover of costume movies and of historic Britain, I was very much looking forward to watching this movie, especially since I see Ralph Fiennes as a very good actor and as I was wondering what Keira Knightley would do with her role as the Duchess.

Firstly, the stately homes and costumes and the plot did do it for me, no doubt, meeting all my expectations. Though, secondly, I was a bit disappointed by Keira Knightley's performance. Quite obviously, she could have made more of her part, of her "Duchess", yet she more or less ended up in some kind of "model on the catwalk" role, presenting those outstanding robes rather than giving her Duchess the depth I was hoping for.

Of course, this is my own personal opinion, and I think, to build your own, you must look into the movie and then I'd love to hear what you've got to say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 29 January 2012
"The Duchess" is a feast for the eyes: period costumes and settings have been lovingly reproduced, giving a marvellous insight into the glitter and gallantry of high society in 18th century England. The acting is excellent, too. Keira Knightley revels in her central role as Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire, one of the most beautiful women in England - and perhaps the most widely admired and talked about. Ralph Fiennes is superb as her husband, the introverted, emotionally inarticulate William, Duke of Devonshire. Charlotte Rampling is marvellous, even in her secondary role as Georgiana's mother, and there are a number of supporting performances - notably Simon McBurney as Charles James Fox, and Aidan McArdle as Richard Brinsley Sheridan - that lend lustre to the spectacle. Within this little bubble of time travel, as it were, we witness a classic romantic drama in which the two principals meet warily, like strange cats circling one another; entirely fail to understand one another's needs or assumptions; quarrel furiously; yet finish by reaching what promises to be a sane, adult understanding. In the process Georgiana's lover Charles Grey (Dominic Cooper), flies closer and closer to her beckoning flame until they both risk being shrivelled to a crisp.

So why did I, like several other reviewers, feel that there was something missing at the heart of "The Duchess"? Forget all the superficial nonsense about Diana - that may have helped to put bums on seats in the cinema, or even to sell copies of the DVD, but there is little real parallel. No more, at least, than with countless other stories that could be told of similar marriages down the ages. The real trouble I had was that I kept on feeling that, instead of seeing Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, living among her own people, with her own mores, in her own time, I had wandered into a different film - perhaps a kind of "Back to the Future" in which Keira Knightley herself, a woman of the 21st century, had somehow found herself transported back 240 years to a society with which she was quite unfamiliar and wholly out of sympathy. She repeatedly told anyone who would listen that her husband didn't talk to her, and seemed to find it odd that the main things he demanded of her were sexual fidelity and a male heir. But how could a young woman grow up in a noble family in the late 18th century and not come to understand such things? At one point, indeed, Keira exclaims that freedom cannot be partial: if it is not complete and unlimited, it is not freedom at all. Whether in the 18th century or today (or in the time of the Pharaohs, for that matter) this is balderdash. Living in today's UK - undoubtedly one of the freest societies ever - are we free to avoid paying tax? To disobey the orders of policemen and other officials? To fly? On the contrary, freedom is always a matter of degree. This kind of politically correct attitude is utterly anachronistic, and moreover looks particularly absurd in the hard-headed 18th century, when people were very excited by exploring new ideas but still had their feet firmly on the ground when it came to trying them out.

The dialogue, too, lets the viewer down. Just look at, for example, Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey & Maturin series of novels to see accurately rendered 18th century speech, with all its delicate charm, nuance, and slang. Good Heavens, even Sid James and Jim Dale in "Carry On: Don't Lose Your Head" do a far better job.
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