Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?
Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire on her marriage to the Duke in 1774, at the height of the Georgian period, a period of fashion, decadence, and political change. Spirited and adored by the public at large she quickly found her marriage to be a disappointment, defined by her duty to produce a male heir and the Duke's philandering and callous indifference to her. She befriends Lady Bess but finds she is once again betrayed by her husband who wields his power with the three eventually living uncomfortably together. Against this background, and with the pressures of an unfaithful husband, strict social pressures and constant public scrutiny, Georgiana falls passionately in love with Charles Grey, a rising young Whig politician. However, despite his ongoing liaison with Lady Bess, the Duke refuses to allow her to continue the affair and threatens to take her children from her. Written by
Althorp Estate, Georgiana's childhood home (shown in the exterior shots of the foot race at the beginning of the film), was originally a red brick building. Red brick went out of style in the 1780's, at which point the entire building was altered with mathematical tile nailed onto the original red brick to give it its current gray exterior. At the time of Georgiana's marriage to the Duke in 1774, the building would still have been red brick as the architectural work started in 1788. The current Earl Spencer (Princess Diana's brother) had the mathematical tiles redone for a cool $8-9 million as many of the original nails used had rusted away, at which point the original red brick used for Althorp was also ruined. See more »
An entertaining film which promises much for the future
The career of Keira Knightley has been somewhat of a mixed bag. She has had strong moments, invariably under the direction of Joe Wright, and she has had her less brilliant moments, mainly in the later "Pirates of the Caribbean" films. But, in "The Duchess", an entertaining and moving portrait of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, she truly shows signs that she is coming of age with a performance of subtlety and nuance.
The film has been marketed with not so subtle emphases on Georgiana's relative, Diana, Princess of Wales. The tagline for the film, "There were three people in her marriage", is not only, by my count, a miscalculation (a serious miscalculation if you count the dogs) but also guilty of creating a subtext which simply isn't in the film. Anybody looking for a film about Diana will be disappointed. Anyone looking for an entertaining film won't be.
The film is a moving portrait of a very tragic figure, brought to life by a career best performance from Keira Knightely. Her abilities have grown over recent years, with "Atonement" being her previous best, but here she shows great potential. She is ably supported by Ralph Fiennes, who is on fine form. His performance never descends into caricature or cartoonish villainy, but maintains a sense of humanity, no matter how selfish it is, underneath his characters various inexcusable actions. There is also a fine performance from Charlotte Rampling, though there is a weak link in the person of Dominic Cooper, who is too young for his part and struggles with it.
The witty and emotive script has a lot to recommend it and its characters are put into an engrossing and lavish world, successfully created by the director Saul Dibb. Extraordinary costumes fill the extraordinary locations, and there is a beautiful score by Rachael Portman to accompany it. The result is a fairly stylish affair.
The film's exploration of unfortunate innocence and the loss of freedom is at times poignant and adds to what is an extremely satisfying experience at the cinema and provides a great deal of promise for the future from its director and its star.
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